Don't mutilate the genitals of male children
The growing consensus against circumcision
National Post, Jackie Smith, Friday, August 30, 2002
Just 30 years ago, male circumcision was all the rage; as many as 90% of boys in the United States, 70% of those in Australia, 48% in Canada and 24% in the United Kingdom were circumcised (often without any anesthesia).
I remember the war that waged in my own mind when my son was born in the 1980s.
I had no religious reasons for choosing circumcision; I wasn't trying to guard against "unhealthy masturbation," as early proponents of circumcision were. I didn't care if he looked like dad, as some parents do. I wanted to know only one thing: What would be best for him -- medically.
If he wasn't circumcised, would I be responsible for increasing his chances of urinary tract infections and sexually transmitted disease, as some physicians had suggested? Would it mean he might need the operation later in life, when circumcision is more comfortable, not to mention unpleasant?
What if he had the operation and got an infection? What if the knife slipped? How would I live with myself?
More important, how would he live with himself?
It's the nature of parenting to always think, "What could I have done better?" So once I made a decision I worried over whether it was the right one. Like all parents, I tried to act in the best interests of my child.
When the Canadian Pediatric Society (CPS) reviewed the medical literature and came out against routine circumcision in 1996, I thought the matter was settled. The CPS looked at the effects of newborn circumcision on the rate of urinary tract infections, sexually transmitted diseases, cancer of the penis, penile problems, and decided the practice was inadvisable. This was in line with a recommendation made earlier by its Fetus and Newborn Committee and with 1971 and 1975 recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Nevertheless, debates about the ethics of circumcision remain unresolved because of its connection to religion and culture -- because medical studies sometimes turn up different results, and because parents do think their kids should look like dad.
Still, I believe a consensus against circumcision is steadily emerging. In this new era of patient rights, circumcision has come to seem like an anachronism. Among doctors, there is a greater emphasis on informed decision-making, the limits on parents' rights to make decisions about their kids' health and the rights of children to be protected from parents who make wrong decisions. Even some adult men who were unnecessarily circumcised as children are asserting their rights to restitution. And since the balance of medical evidence suggests those who oppose circumcision have the facts on their side, doctors are increasingly refusing to perform circumcisions. Complications from bleeding, amputation, renal failure, sepsis and death are powerful incentives to stop.
With the death of an infant in B.C., possibly as a result of circumcision and currently under coroner's investigation, there will be more questions of circumcision's benefits and risks -- with a more pronounced focus on the latter.
Parents who opt for circumcision must, as a matter of both law and morals, make their decision based on the principle of respect for the rights and best interests of their child, according to the available information concerning risks and benefits. The death of the Kamloops baby may bring new awareness about the risks of circumcision (though the baby's death may ultimately turn out to have arisen from something far more complicated than a botched circumcision).
Indeed, the media coverage of the incident may speed circumcision for non-religious reasons into the dustbin of medical practice -- alongside many other once-popular procedures, such as the removal of the ovaries for hysteria, tonsillectomy for a sore throat, lobotomy for mental retardation, etc. In a few years, looking like dad or wanting to keep a boy "clean" may no longer be legally legitimate rationales for circumcision. It's about time they weren't. Parents who have had their kids circumcised can't be faulted for doing what they thought was right. But it is unethical to continue a practice that is no longer medically defensible and could harm our kids.
Male Circumcision, the unkindest cut
By Dr. Gifford Jones
Special to C-Health
ABC News, U.S.A., by Susan Donaldson James, March 12, 2012
New York City is investigating the death last September of a baby who contracted herpes after a "ritual circumcision with oral suction," in an ultra-Orthodox Jewish ceremony known in Hebrew as metzitzah b'peh.
The district attorney's office in Kings County Brooklyn is investigating the death of the 2-week-old baby at Maimonides Hospital, but would not disclose the name of the mohel or whether there would be a prosecution.
The 5,000-year-old religious practice is seen primarily in ultra-Orthodox and some orthodox communities and has caused an alarm among city health officials. In 2003 and 2004, three babies, including a set of twins, were infected with Type 1 herpes; the cases were linked to circumcision, and one boy died.
The mohel who performed the procedures, Yitzchok Fischer, was later banned from doing circumcisions, according to The New York Times. It is not known if he was involved in this recent death.
"It's certainly not something any of us recommend in the modern infection-control era," said Dr. William Schaffner, chair of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University.
"This is a ritual of historic Abraham that's come down through the ages, and now it has met modern science," he said. "It was never a good idea, and there is a better way to do this." (The modern Jewish community uses a sterile aspiration device to clean the wound in a circumcision.)
In the 2004 death and the more recent one, a mohel infected the penile wounds with Type 1 herpes I (HSV-1), which affects the mouth and throat. It is different from Type 2 or genital herpes (HSV-2), which is a sexually transmitted disease and can cause deadly infections when a newborn passes through an infected birth canal.
Neonatal herpes is "almost always" a fatal infection, according to Schaffner. "It's a bad virus. [Infants] have no immunity and so it's a very serious illness. Now we have another death -- an unnecessary, incredibly tragic death."
The Canadian Press
Dec. 22, 2011
VANCOUVER - A B.C. man who performed a botched circumcision on his four-year-old son on the kitchen floor of his home has lost an appeal of his conviction and been found guilty of a more serious charge.
The B.C. Court of Appeal has stayed the man's conviction for criminal negligence causing bodily harm and convicted him of aggravated assault.
Court heard the boy was born premature at only 2.5 pounds and could not be circumcised at the time, nor did his parents request it.
South Korean Doctors
Peak age of circumcision of males in Korea is 12 years old!
UTIs are rare
"Of every 1,000 boys who are circumcised 2 will be admitted to hospital for a urinary tract infection (UTI) before they are one year old."
"Of every 1,000 boys who are not circumcised 7 will be admitted to hospital for a UTI before they are one year old. "
Sur 1 000 garÃ§ons circoncis 2 seront hospitalisÃ©s en raison d'une infection urinaire avant l'Ã¢ge d'un an.
Sur 1 000 garÃ§ons non circoncis 7 seront hospitalisÃ©s par suite d'une infection urinaire avant l'Ã¢ge d'un an.
Anyone who states that urinary tract infections are common among newborn baby boys, and therefore advocates that the genital mutilation of boys ( male circumcision) will stop urinary tract infections, is a liar or misinformed.
Besides, urinary tract infections are entirely treatable.
Men's News Daily Online
Commentary on the David Reimer botched circumcision / gender changed case
CanadianCRC editor's Note: Reminder about our policy: Many sides of an issue are expressed in articles on this website. Many articles contain points of view which should be heard but are not the position of the Canadian Children's Rights Council.
Read what the medical profession associations have to say on this issue
The BMA does not believe that parental preference alone constitutes sufficient grounds for performing a surgical procedure on a child unable to express his own view. . . . Parental preference must be weighed in terms of the child's interests. . . . The BMA considers that the evidence concerning health benefit from non-therapeutic circumcision is insufficient for this alone to be a justification for doing it. . . . Some doctors may wish to not perform circumcisions for reasons of conscience. Doctors are under no obligation to comply with a request to circumcise a child. Read More ..
Five-week-old infant died after he was circumcised at Penticton hospital
Vancouver, British Columbia
August 29, 2002
The Kamloops coroner is investigating the case of an infant who died last week from complications following his circumcision at Penticton Regional Hospital.
The five-week-old child was released after the procedure last Tuesday morning, but his parents went back to talk to the doctor later that day with concerns about bleeding. They returned home, but the situation worsened overnight, forcing them to rush the child back to hospital early Wednesday.
The infant was flown by air ambulance to Vancouver, where he died last Thursday in B.C. Children's Hospital.
"It certainly seems to be unusual," coroner Ian McKichan said yesterday. "It's definitely something that warrants an investigation, because it's a totally unexpected sort of death."
Deaths following circumcision are almost unheard of, but like any operation, bleeding and infection are the greatest dangers.
The case raises questions about an increasingly rare operation which stirs controversy in some circles.
"The bottom line is that circumcision is becoming a less-common procedure," said Dr. Morris Van Andel, registrar of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of B.C. "It's no longer an insured service -- it's considered an option. That makes it all the Read More ..stressing when you hear about something like this."
According to Penticton hospital officials, the operation to remove the foreskin from the child's penis was conducted by a physician with 16 years' practice in British Columbia.