Ethical Questions for the AAP Committee on Bioethics

“Dear Dr. Moseley:

According to the literature, you served on the AAP Committee on Bioethics, which issued a 1995 statement “Informed Consent, Parental Permission, and Assent in Pediatric Practice.” (1) This Committee approved the 1999 Circumcision Policy Statement.(2)  There appear to be conflicts between these documents, and I request your assistance in clarifying some ethical concerns. Given the importance of the circumcision issue to many people, clarification of these points would help us to accurately educate others about the AAP recommendations.

Citing the Bioethics Policy, the Circumcision Policy states that parents must make choices about health care for infants and young children because infants and young children are not capable of making their own decisions.(3)  However, these decisions are related to diagnosis and treatment for an ailment.(4)  Non-therapeutic circumcision is genital surgery performed on a child with no ailment, and circumcision is not treatment.”

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