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Canadian Children's Rights Council - Conseil canadien des droits des enfants

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Circumcision unnecessary, say Sask. doctors

Canadian Press, CTV and various newspapers across Canada,  February 21, 2002

REGINA - Routine circumcisions on baby boys is an unnecessary medical procedure, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan said Wednesday.

"For almost 2 1/2 decades now the Canadian Pediatric Society has pointed out there really is no research evidence to suggest benefit from the procedure that outweighs the risks of performing the procedure," said college registrar Dr. Dennis Kendel.

The college has issued a memo to doctors urging them to discuss the issue with parents and to effectively convey the message it is not a recommended procedure.

Kendel also pointed out the the incidence of infant male circumcision in Saskatchewan "is very high compared to some other jurisdictions in the country."

Provincial Health Department figures for 2000-2001 indicate 27.6 per cent of infant males were circumcised in Saskatchewan compared to 1.5 per cent in Nova Scotia and .6 per cent in Newfoundland and Labrador.

"It is quite a remarkable difference," said Kendel, who added a lot of doctors take a neutral position and do strictly whatever the parents prefer.

Kendel said parents often make the decision about their child relative to whether the father is circumcised.

In August 1996 the provincial Health Department deinsured the procedure in part because it recognized there were relatively few medical indications to support it. The Ontario Health Insurance Plan delisted circumcisions last June.

The American Academy of Pediatrics, the largest pediatrics group in the U.S. and Canada, said in a March 1999 report that the medical benefits of circumcision aren't compelling enough to recommend the procedure routinely.

"It really isn't good medical practice to perform a procedure where there is no evidence of expected benefits and there are some real risks," Kendel said.