Anti-circumcision activists confront pediatricians

NEW ORLEANS — Pediatricians gathered here for the American Academy of Pediatrics convention were greeted by protesters urging the medical … Continued

NEW ORLEANS — Pediatricians gathered here for the American Academy of Pediatrics convention were greeted by protesters urging the medical group to rethink its position on an issue that makes most people squirm: the circumcision of newborn boys.

And although the American Academy of Pediatrics doesn’t recommend routine removal of infants’ foreskins — that has been its stance since 1999 — its report, released two months ago, does cite literature saying that the procedure can prevent urinary-tract infections, cancer of the penis and sexually transmitted diseases, including AIDS.

Such benefits, the report says, justify its coverage by private insurance and Medicaid. But opponents, who call themselves “intactivists,” go beyond mere opposition to the circumcision of healthy infants.

“We say that it’s a human-rights violation to tie down a baby and cut off part of his penis,” said Georganne Chapin, the founding executive director of Intact America, which held a press conference and rally outside the convention on Saturday (Oct. 20).

The AAP convention continues through Tuesday.

Moreover, she said, “There are absolutely no data suggesting that areas with high circumcision rates have healthier boys or areas with low circumcision rates have less healthy boys.”

Data suggest a decline in the percentage of American newborns undergoing the procedure.

Between 1988 and 2000, the percentage of in-hospital circumcisions rose from 48.3 percent to 61.1 percent, according to a study that the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released last year. But during the next decade, the percentage of circumcisions on newborns dropped, researchers found. They consulted three databases that showed rates of decline ranging from 6.3 percent to 11.3 percent.

The CDC report, which cites research showing that circumcision of adult African men lowered their risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases, didn’t assign a reason for the decrease in circumcisions.

Anthony Losquadro of Brooklyn, N.Y., who spoke at Saturday’s rally at the convention center, said it represents a shift in public opinion.

“Like any change in culture, it takes time,” he said, “but I think people realize that babies are born intact and you don’t need to correct a perfectly functional body part with surgery.”

Although the report did note a drop in circumcisions, it said that in states where Medicaid covered the procedure, the circumcision rates were 24 percent higher than those in states that didn’t pay for the operation.

The authors did not take a position on whether newborns should be circumcised. They also took pains to point out that the data they used didn’t include circumcisions performed outside hospitals, such as those required for boys born into Jewish and Muslim families.

But the reason for the procedure doesn’t matter, said Chapin, whose organization opposes all medically unnecessary circumcisions.

“Our organization is not going after Jews and Muslims,” she said. “We’re saying that all babies are entitled to protection.”

The circumcision debate was renewed recently after a court in Cologne, Germany, banned circumcisions for infant boys. Jewish groups protested, and also protested a recent New York City Board of Health ruling that requires parental consent for a procedure in which a mohel orally sucks the blood for a circumcision incision.

Among the speakers at Saturday’s protest were men who were circumcised days after they were born and still profess to be upset by it, even though the procedure occurred decades ago.

“I do feel a sense that my rights were violated on my second day of life,” Losquadro said.

The foreskin has a role, he said, because it covers the tip of the penis — he likened this role to that of an eyelid — and because it has cells that alert the immune system to potential trouble.

“It evolved for a reason,” he said, “and it’s foolish for doctors to assume that it’s an unneeded flap of skin.”

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Religion News Service LLC.

More on:
  • RespectNature

    Bottom line: The AAP does not recommend routine infant circumcision. As a matter of fact circumcision is not recommended by any medical organization in the world. To tie a non-consenting individual down to cut and remove of a piece of his/her body sounds like a human rights violation to me.

  • hugh7

    “Among the speakers at Saturday’s protest were men who were circumcised days after they were born and still profess to be upset by it, even though the procedure occurred decades ago.”

    Way to dismiss a human rights issue! Did their foreskins grow back?

  • Jessica Swinson

    Agreed…would the same thing be said to a victim of sexual assault, or a female who had been circumcised against their will? Passage of time does not remove the initial wrong done to these men. What a callous dismissal.

Read More Articles

Screenshot 2014-04-23 11.40.54
Atheists Bad, Christians Good: A Review of “God’s Not Dead”

A smug Christian movie about smug atheists leads to an inevitable happy ending.

Ten Ways to Make Your Church Autism-Friendly

The author of the Church of England’s autism guidelines shares advice any church can follow.

Valle Header Art
My Life Depended on the Very Act of Writing

How I was saved by writing about God and cancer.

Sociologist: Religion Can Predict Sexual Behavior

“Religion and sex are tracking each other like never before,” says sociologist Mark Regnerus.

The Internet Is Not Killing Religion. So What Is?

Why is religion in decline in the modern world? And what can save it?

Why I Want to Be Culturally Evangelical

I’ve lost my faith. Do I have to lose my heritage, too?

What Is a Saint?

How the diversity of saintly lives reveals multiple paths toward God.

An Ayatollah’s Gift to Baha’is, Iran’s Largest Religious Minority

An ayatollah offers a beautiful symbolic gesture against a backdrop of violent persecution.

river dusk
Cleaner, Lighter, Closer

What’s a fella got to do to be baptized?

Magical Thinking and the Canonization of Two Popes

Why Pope Francis is canonizing two popes for all of the world wide web to see.

Pope Francis: Stop the Culture of Waste

What is the human cost of our tendency to throw away?

chapel door
“Sometimes You Find Something Quiet and Holy”: A New York Story

In a hidden, underground sanctuary, we were all together for a few minutes in this sweet and holy mystery.

Mary Magdalene, the Closest Friend of Jesus

She’s been ignored, dismissed, and misunderstood. But the story of Easter makes it clear that Mary was Jesus’ most faithful friend.

From Passover to Easter: Why I’m Grateful to be Jewish, Christian, and Alive

Passover with friends. Easter with family. It’s almost enough to make you believe in God.

Top 10 Reasons We’re Glad A Catholic Colbert Is Taking Over Letterman’s “Late Show”

How might we love Stephen Colbert as the “Late Show” host? Let us count the ways.

God’s Not Dead? Why the Good News Is Better than That

The resurrection of Jesus is not a matter of private faith — it’s a proclamation for the whole world.

The Three Most Surprising Things Jesus Said

Think you know Jesus? Some of his sayings may surprise you.

Jesus, Bunnies, and Colored Eggs: An Explanation of Holy Week and Easter

So, Easter is a one-day celebration of Jesus rising from the dead and turning into a bunny, right? Not exactly.