The AAP Statement on Circumcision

As anticipated, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued an update to their Circumcision Policy Statement today, as they periodically do. It is deeply disappointing that while other nations are taking steps to protect the genital integrity of both boys and girls, we Americans once again fail to make a firm stand to protect our male babies. It is heartbreaking to see and I am saddened by the news, although I am not surprised and, most importantly, I am not deterred from doing what is right, meaning that I will continue:

  • to educate people about the protective and sexual functions of the foreskin
  • to encourage parents to protect their children from this practice
  • to normalize natural male anatomy and correct care of the intact penis
  • to empower parents to trust their instinct when they feel apprehensive about subjecting an unconsenting child to this unnecessary surgery
  • to promote equality between the sexes with respect to protected rights to genital integrity
  • to offer books, articles, DVDs, websites, blog posts and other resources regarding circumcision, including physical risks and complications, and psychological scars
  • to inspire parents to give their son the gift of a choice: ultimately, it’s his penis and he should choose whether he wants to keep all of it or not
  • to lead by example by keeping my own children intact
  • to support those who call me through the NOCIRC regional information center and want to discuss circumcision, intact care or foreskin restoration; to listen to men who are suffering physically and psychologically from a surgery they didn’t want.
  • to remind people that talking with their children about safe sex, condoms and simple hygiene is and will always be much more effective than circumcision surgery!

To be clear, the AAP’s statement does NOT recommend circumcision, but rather states:

“Although health benefits are not great enough to recommend routine circumcision for all male newborns, the benefits of circumcision are sufficient to justify access to this procedure for families choosing it and to warrant third-party payment for circumcision of male newborns. It is important that clinicians routinely inform parents of the health benefits and risks of male newborn circumcision in an unbiased and accurate manner.”

So circumcision is NOT RECOMMENDED for all male newborns but the AAP wants parents to have ACCESS TO the procedure and they want insurance to pay for it. That’s what this is all about. But the media and many parents will interpret that as an endorsement of routine male infant circumcision and this is where the danger lies.

Many excellent articles swiftly appeared in response to the AAP’s statement, and here are just a few that I encourage you to read as they contain cogent thought-provoking points:

If you’ve been on the fence about this decision and think now that if the AAP says it’s OK, it should be OK with you too, please remember that the AAP is the same organization that issued a stunning statement in 2010 that doctors should be able to perform a “ritual nick” on little girls’ genitals too:

The AAP advocates for “federal and state laws [to] enable pediatricians to reach out to families by offering a ‘ritual nick’,” such as pricking or minor incisions of girls’ clitorises as that constitutes “no more of an alteration than ear piercing”.

If the AAP is OK with a clitoral nick, would you do it to your baby girl? My guess is probably not. (Read their current full statement on Ritual Genital Cutting of Female Minors here. As you do, ask yourself why it is that they mention the complications, physical harms and psychological risks of FGC and why those same points apparently do not apply to the same magnitude for boys. Compare the statements for boys and girls. Question why the AAP recommends that its members actively seek to dissuade families from carrying out FGC and that parents should be reminded that performing FGC is illegal and constitutes child abuse in the United States. Why don’t our boys get the same protection girls do?)

Why are we so obsessed with altering baby genitals? Why can’t we just leave them alone?

To be blunt, policy statements like these indicate to me that we should follow the money. Those who urge parents to keep their boys intact have absolutely nothing to gain. There is no conflict of intere$t. There is no ulterior motive. Keeping your son’s foreskin on his body – and being educated about intact care, not allowing premature forcible retractions – costs nothing. Those who work to serve as the voice for these infant boys do so as a labor of love. It takes time, energy, money, heartache and we do it for the children. However, there is no denying that there is money to be made in office visits, circumstraints, Gomco clamps, Plastibells, anaesthetics (if used, most don’t receive any), follow-up corrective surgeries, and the sale of foreskins, which alone is a lucrative industry.

If you feel so inclined, please share your thoughts with the AAP. Here is their contact info:

  • 847/434-4000 (tel)
  • 800/433-9016 (toll-free tel)
  • 847/434-8000 (fax)

And join in the online discussions happening right now on so many news sites.

It can make a difference!

“If you think you’re too small to have an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito in the room.” ~Anita Roddick


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