Washington - In the United States, a vocal movement of “intactivists,” or people who oppose male circumcision, is engaged in a fierce debate with doctors over the practice of clipping baby boys' foreskins.
Actor Russell Crowe may be the most famous of them. Earlier this year he declared on Twitter: “Circumcision is barbaric and stupid,” before swiftly tweeting sorry to anyone who thought he was “mocking the rituals and traditions of others.”
Over the weekend, California's governor blocked a bid by opponents of circumcision to have voters decide if local governments could make it a crime for doctors to perform the procedure unless medically necessary.
But the movement has vowed to keep fighting against a medical practice that is done to about 57 percent of American boys - down from more than 80 percent in the 1980s according to US health authorities - yet remains rare in most of Europe, Asia and Latin America.
Defence of circumcision typically tends to come from Jews and Muslims who say it is part of their belief set, though opponents say religious circumcision actually makes up less than one percent of all operations.
Increasingly, support for the practice has come from US doctors who warn of the potential risks of not doing it, including more likely cases of sexually transmitted diseases and HIV.
“Based on the medical evidence, banning infant male circumcision would deprive parents of the right to act on behalf of their children's health,” wrote Johns Hopkins University epidemiologists Aaron Tobian and Ronald Gray in Tuesday's Journal of the American Medical Association.
“Three randomised trials in Africa demonstrated that adult male circumcision decreases human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) acquisition in men by 51 percent to 60 percent,” the pair wrote, also citing research that suggests lower rates of other sex diseases.
“If a vaccine were available that reduced HIV risk by 60 percent, genital herpes risk by 30 percent, and HR-HPV (high-risk human papillomaviruses) risk by 35 percent, the medical community would rally behind the immunization and it would be promoted as a game-changing public health intervention.”
The pair acknowledged concerns that some of the Africa studies may not be applicable to the United States, where sexually transmitted infections (STIs) “are a persistent problem” despite high circumcision rates.
However they concluded that in all, evidence to support the practice has “increased substantially during the past five years.”
They also raised new concerns about what could be a drop in circumcisions among the poor due to the recent uptick from 16 to 18 states that do not allow Medicaid to cover the cost.
That would adversely affect underprivileged and minority communities, “especially for those at the highest risk for these infections,” they wrote.
But opponents, like Georgann Chapin, executive director of the privately funded advocacy group Intact America, say the doctors' arguments are unfounded.
“There is no evidence anywhere that countries with lower circumcision rates have public health problems related to the fact that the men are intact,” she told AFP.
And further, since the United States bans any genital modification to little girls, the same protection under the law should be afforded to little boys, she said.
“Could you take your daughter in to the doctor and say 'Cut her finger off?' Of course not. Could you take her to the dentist and say 'Pull all of her teeth out, I am afraid she is going to get cavities?'
“If doctors went by the principle that the baby is the patient and the baby cannot give consent... they would say 'I can't do it.'“
A steady voice in what often becomes an emotional debate should come from the American Academy of Pediatrics, which is at work on a new policy statement about male circumcision to come out early next year.
The group's current position paper takes a middle-of-the-road stance.
“Existing scientific evidence demonstrates potential medical benefits of newborn male circumcision; however, these data are not sufficient to recommend routine neonatal circumcision,” it says.
Chapin said her group's supporters intend to press the issue at the AAP's upcoming conference later this month in Boston, and will publish an open letter asking doctors to “put down the knife.”
“I think people know this is a really weird and messed up thing to do to children - but there is such a defensiveness about it,” said Chapin.
“I believe what we are seeing here is kind of a last-ditch effort to protect a practice that people in their hearts know is wrong.” - Sapa-AFP
im 32 and had it done a few weeks ago and the only reason i did was cause the foreskin was too tight and it was messing wit my sex routine,i dont see the point of doing it unless it bothers u if it wasnt for tightness i would kept my cap on.as to the whole HIV story i think it's just hogwash condoms help with preventing STI and hygiene is the 1 thing that should be tought to boys.i think every1 should have thier own choice to do it
Yvonne, have you ever slept with a man thats been circumcised....i guess not hence your very ignorant comment! We all need to respect others religious practices, and not learn to judge based on ignorance.
women love a circumcised man,fact.
I know at least six men who had to get circumcised as adults for medical reasons and all of them wished they had had it done as a baby. All admitted it made their life better having it done. The facts don't lie, and humans were not created perfect.
Thats why we dont circumsize Elephants " Such a Big Drawback"
What a bunch of D***s.....!!!!!!!!!!
I'd love to have been around when Moses came off the mountain with this idea. You just gotta imagine the reaction; I wish I'd been there to see it: "You want us to WHAT??!!" Old moses must have been a hell of a salesman to convince them he was serious. Then along came old St. Paul some centuries and said, "Naaagh.... forget it, it was just an administrative mistake. God's re-'pieled' that old covenant - you get to keep your end on."
If you were to watch a circumcision you might agree with how barbaric the procedure is. The child is not anestetised. Even the Jewish give the children a bit of wine...I mention them because after the Holocaust I believe the Jesiwh doctors wanted to do these circumcisions so that they would never stand out again, that the circumcision would not longer be a way to find and kill the Jewish men. Of course, many doctors were Jewish... In this country in the 1970s we were treated as if we were wrong, that this was a medically necessary procedure. If the procedure were free they might have the right to sell us on it, but this is not the case. I have sons who were not circumcised, and have had somedone and did stand beside and witness the procedure. It is absolutely barbaric. I would encourage parents to abandon the practice.
Parents should NOT be allowed to make this choice on behalf of their children. People can decide for THEMSELVES if they want their bodies mutilated or not!!!! My boy will remain the way he was born - unless HE decides otherwise!!!
lol i jst cant imagine sleeping a man with a polonect it aint sexy for me but dirty
I'm not circumcised. Not a single health issue down there in my 40 years. Not even for a day. And it works like a charm. Ask my wife! In all likelihood, my son, also not snipped, would have the same track record. Not because of my superhuman genetics, but because of basic personal hygiene taught to me by my dad which I will teach to my son. I don’t believe there is a medical reason for circumcision. The only reasons I can think of why some men would want to be circumcised are for religious obligation or for some kind of “kinky winky” syndrome. Either way, he should be allowed to choose for himself as an adult. To me, this is the same as a tattoo. Get it if you like to, but none for me thanks. I’m doing quite ok without it. My belief about the body is that we should seek medical intervention when necessary. Otherwise, do the necessary to keep it in good working order.
There are no big drawbacks to circumcision :-)
A 60% reduction in the odds of contracting HIV is a VERY good reason to be circumcised.
I'm circumcised and I'm happy about it. So are my girlfriends! You cannot equate male circumcision with female circumcision. Male circumcision is about making a piece of skin shorter. Female circumcision is about removing an entire piece of an organ specifically to reduce sexual pleasure. Female circumcision is not really circumcision-it's mutilation. Very seldom do circumcised men wish they’d never had it. June, do you really believe that myth about skin cream companies? Get real!
Circumcison is already illegal for ALL genders. The FGM amendment says you cannot cut girls even for religious reasons, the 14th amendment says all genders have to be protected equally. Continuing this practice is illegal in the U.S. The California law is not legal and will not hold water. Please know that doctors who push for circ are the ones who sell your child's foreskin, after ripping it from the rest of his penis with little or no pain meds, to a skin cream company for thousands of dollars.
Circumcision is barbaric and stupid is an accurate statement.Unless there is a medical reason it is just to belong in a social club to hoist their poles.For those who talk about cleanliness what do you do take a bath or shower with eyes closed.
Here is the truth,in second world war in Poland ,the german soldiers to verify who is JEW .THEY FORCED THE YOUNGS MEN PULLED DOWN THEIR PANTS TO FIND OUT IF THEY ARE jEWS.
I got it done at age 27, and I wish my parents would of done it when i was 8 days old as it should be done, but at that time in Russia is was not common thing to do. First off, the sex is incredible now that its cut. Easier to keep clean and less fuss, any one who thinks this is barbaric, needs to stop babying their child and let them grow up, prob the same ppl who work up a storm when little jimmy falls and scrapes his knee then grows up a whiny little brat who feel he wasnt hugged enough as a child. But over all the most important thing is, why are we really even talking about this? out of all of the problems that exist in this world, this is the one that people want to have a movement on? Millions are jobless, inflation is rising, the middle class is disappearing and these fools want to move on making this 6 thousand year old tradition illegal? Prob the same ppl who's parents cried when they scraped their knees.
It's a bronze age tradition from the Middle East that removes fully one-half of all the erotic nerves for NO compelling medical reason (about 10 square-centimeters of skin in an erect adult). I'm a practicing uncircumcised Jew (Jewish dad, non-Jewish mom), and I think it's time to move on.
Brian P, wrote
I'm not cut my son is not cut and that's the way we were born.The practice should be left up to the parents after birth