The WHOLE Network, a grassroots organization dedicated to providing accurate information about circumcision, acknowledges the individual’s right to bodily autonomy. Therefore we find that the only acceptable circumcision policy statement would be one that guarantees that right to the patient in the absence of medical necessity. When performed on a non-consenting minor, routine male infant circumcision violates medical ethics and ignores the first principle of the Hippocratic Oath: First, do no harm.
The last policy statement issued by the AAP in 1999 and reaffirmed in 2007 acknowledges that the modest potential benefits of circumcision do not outweigh the risks. The 2012 statement from the AAP asserts that the benefits of infant circumcision outweigh the risks of the procedure, and that all families should be allowed the option of circumcising infant sons. By suggesting the decision is best left in the hands of the parents, the AAP ignores the ethical dilemma of the leaving the patient out of this decision when he is the person who has to live with the irreversible consequences of the procedure.
Citing evidence from three studies in Africa that found a reduced rate of HIV transmission to circumcised males, the AAP has irresponsibly dismissed conflicting evidence that distinctly calls the effectiveness of circumcision on HIV rates into question.[1-4] The AAP also cites a reduction in urinary tract infections, even though the circumcision procedure itself can cause life-threatening infection.[5-7] Reduced risk of penile cancer is touted, but this cancer is so rare a man is more likely to experience breast cancer than cancer of the penis in his lifetime. The AAP fails to acknowledge that easier, less-costly, non-invasive measures exist for all of the supposed benefits of circumcision, such as condoms, antibiotics, and proper hygeine.
Further, the AAP has turned a blind eye to mounting evidence that circumcision is a harmful practice with serious risks such as hemorrhage [10-19], accidental dismemberment,[20-36] and death,[37-46] and potential life-long physical, psychological,[47-57] and sexual consequences ranging from a personality disorder to erectile dysfunction to orgasm difficulties, with sexual side-effects also extending to his partner.
It is important to remember that the task force charged with reviewing and updating the academy’s position on circumcision is not without conflict of interest. The AAP is a professional organization, which exists to represent and support the professional interests of its members. In its last position statement they acknowledged that those members stand to lose an estimated $150-270 million dollars if circumcisions were no longer performed, without including follow-up care and corrective procedures, which are quite common. The new statement proclaims, "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," revealing whose interests they truly have in mind.
Last year when the AAP issued a call to allow physicians to offer a ‘ritual nick’ on the genitals of girls, the immediate and intense public response led to a prompt retraction. The WHOLE Network calls upon the AAP to act quickly to retract the 2012 circumcision statement, and instead put the rights and well-being of the patient before all other interests by condemning routine infant circumcision.
For more information, please visit www.wholenetwork.org
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