Activists Call Circumcision Mutilation

In fact, in 1999 the American Academy of Pediatrics formed a Task Force on Circumcision. Reviewing almost 40 years worth of studies, the task force concluded: “Circumcision is not essential to a child’s well-being at birth, even though it does have some potential medical benefits. These benefits are not compelling enough to warrant the AAP to recommend routine newborn circumcision.”

Carole Lannon, an epidimiologist and pediatrician at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who chaired the AAP circumcision Task Force, says she encourages parents to discuss the benefits and risks of the operation with a pediatrician before making the decision.

But because there are sensitive cultural and religious issues in the circumcision debate, the pediatricians organization’s policy paper does state: “It is legitimate for parents to take into account cultural, religious and ethnic traditions, in addition to medical factors, when making this choice.”

The American Urological Association and the Canadian Pediatrics Association agree with AAP’s position.

Despite the controversy, same doctors say circumcision will continue to be widespread and that the decision should be made by parents.

“Very few doctors or medical establishments recommend infant circumcision on a routine basis, but at the same time they recognize there are benefits and advantages as well as disadvantages and risks. Therefore the decision to circumcise or not should be left to the parents,” says Circumcision Online News, a Web site started by doctors and researchers concerned about possible misinformation disseminated by the blossoming anti-circumcision movement.

From the Mouths of Men

Those traditions are centuries old and many men — even some who do not consider themselves religious — would like to see them preserved.

Guy Vidra, a 26-year old secular Jewish man living in New York, writes in an e-mail to ABCNEWS.COM: “When and if the time comes with my child, I will have him circumcised to go through the religious rite.” He says he has no recollection of the ceremony performed on him and has a hard time imagining that a young child could feel “violated” by circumcision.

For Catholic-born John McCloskey, circumcision seems “mostly harmless” as a religious ritual. “But,” says the 28-year-old Brooklyn resident, “as a medical operation performed on millions of American baby boys, it’s insane.”

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