Jun 26

Circumcision, Ethics, and Medicine

“Like all professions, medicine has its own ethical code and principles of conduct. One rule of conduct is “First, do no harm.” Removing a normal, healthy body part and causing unnecessary pain is doing harm. Some doctors who circumcise acknowledge the associated pain and then dismiss it by saying, “It only lasts for a minute,” implying that it is acceptable to subject an infant to unnecessary pain as long as it is temporary. (In one study, the time required for the procedure ranged from six to forty minutes.(1)) However, there is strong evidence that the pain has lasting effects. Even if it did not, this careless attitude about inflicting pain violates the ethical principles of the medical profession. It also violates general moral principles to subject anyone, particularly a defenseless infant, to any unnecessary pain for any period of time. As recently reported in the New England Journal of Medicine, “Failure to provide adequate control of pain amounts to substandard and unethical medical practice.”(2) Furthermore, circumcision without anesthesia is inconsistent with ethical guidelines that prohibit performing surgical procedures on laboratory animals without anesthesia.(3) Based on these standards and given that there is no effective and safe anesthetic that will eliminate circumcision pain, all circumcisions would be prohibited.

According to the Hippocratic oath, another important principle of medical practice is that the patient’s welfare shall be the doctor’s first consideration.(4) In the case of circumcision, doctors generally tend to ignore this rule, while parents falsely believe they are following it. One physician defended circumcision by saying that “within the community at large, at the present time, there is not a tremendous amount of support for saying to parents you shouldn’t do this.” For this physician, regarding the issue of circumcision, community attitude seems to supersede the patient’s welfare. Isn’t it the medical profession’s responsibility to lead rather than follow regarding community health care standards?”


Jun 26

History of Circumcision

“The practice of male genital mutilation is far older than recorded history. Certainly, it is far older than the Biblical account of Abraham (Genesis 17). It seems to have originated in eastern Africa long before this time.”


Jun 26

Royal Dutch Medical Association: Male circumcision is “medically unnecessary”

Royal Dutch Medical Association (KNMG) to discourage non-therapeutic circumcision of male minors

Utrecht, 27 May 2010 – The official standpoint of KNMG and other related medical/scientific organisations is that non-therapeutic circumcision of male minors is a violation of children’s rights to autonomy and physical integrity. KNMG is urging a strong policy of deterrence.

The reason for the adoption of an official standpoint regarding this matter is the increasing emphasis on the protection of children’s rights. Contrary to popular belief, circumcision can also cause complications – bleeding, infection, urethral stricture and panic attacks are particularly common. Full or partial penile amputations have also been reported as a consequence of complications.”


Jun 26

Does Amputation Harm Babies?

Of course it does. Amputation of any healthy tissue is not only traumatic, but completely unnecessary. Naturally it will cause harm – on more levels than the parents who decide to cut their child even realize.

Jun 23

Does Circumcision Decrease Sexual Sensitivity? [Yes!]

“The effects of routine infant circumcision on penile sensation and sexual function are significant, one reason foreskin restoration is becoming more common.

That circumcision would reduce sexual sensation makes sense biologically. Stripping the glans of its protective foreskin effectively turns it from an internal to an external organ. Over time the originally moist, soft mucosa becomes pale as the skin builds up thicker layers to protect the delicate surface from abrasion against clothing. While circumcision results in initial hypersensitivity of the glans, over time the keratinisation of its surface makes the glans less sensitive.

Removing the foreskin also, not surprisingly, means that the circumcised man can no longer enjoy sensations from the specialised nerves amputated during the procedure. Nor can the foreskin function as intended during sex, providing gliding and rolling sensations a circumcised man necessarily lacks.

As circumcision has become the norm in America, the sexual effects of circumcision have been downplayed, if not outright dismissed. Advocates of circumcision point to a number of studies in which circumcised men reported being happy with the procedure or feeling no less sensitive after circumcision.

However, these studies are methodologically questionable.”


Jun 22

Chronology of the foreskin and circumcision

A timeline depicting the chronology of the foreskin in animals and humans – from 300 Million BCE to 2003 AD.


Jun 21

Circumcisions kill 20 boys in South Africa

“Twenty South African boys have died following botched circumcisions in the Eastern Cape Province.

“The deaths occurred over the past 12 days, with nine of them occurring over the past 24 hours,” said a provincial health spokesperson.

Some 60 boys have been rescued from 11 initiation schools which have since been closed.

Circumcision is seen as a rite of passage into manhood in some South African communities.”


Jun 21

Infant circumcision is unethical paper says

“A new paper by David Shaw in Clinical Ethics this month argues that non-indicated circumcision performed by a physician is unethical. The paper states that an ethical doctor will object to conducting a clinically unnecessary operation on a child who cannot consent simply because of the parent’s desires or religious beliefs.”


Jun 12

It’s time to protect boys as well as girls from the barbaric practice of circumcision

“Let the squeamish look away now: this blog post is about male and female circumcision, a subject that’s raising controversy again. Why is female circumcision abhorrent but male circumcision kosher?

I blame our cultural hypocrisy.”


Jun 09

Infant circumcision causes [more than] 100 deaths each year in US

“The study found that approximately 117 neonatal (first 28 days after birth) circumcision-related deaths occur annually in the United States, one out of every 77 male neonatal deaths. The study also identified reasons why accurate data on these deaths are not available, some of the obstacles to preventing these deaths, and some solutions to overcome them.

Previous studies estimated the death rate as low as two per year to as many as 230. The study collected data from hospital records and government sources to attempt to provide a more accurate magnitude of the problem.

To put this in perspective, about 44 neonatal boys die each year from suffocation, and 8 from auto accidents. About 115 neonatal boys die annually from SIDS, nearly the same as from circumcision.”