Time for U.S. Parents to Reconsider the Acceptability of Infant Male Circumcision

April 9, 2015 6:29 PM

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Do the benefits of male circumcision outweigh the risks? The U.S. Centers for Disease Control -- echoing the 2012 policy statement of the American Academy of Pediatrics -- have recently suggested that they do. What many Americans are not aware of, however, is the fact that the United States is not just unusual, but actually unique among developed nations in finding such widespread medical support for infant male circumcision. This support originated in the late 1800s, when doctors promoted the operation as a "cure" for masturbation; today it comes primarily from doctors' trade associations -- such as the AAP -- that protect financial and other interests of physicians who continue to perform such surgeries. Doctors in peer nations, by contrast, along with the medical associations that represent them, tend to see the U.S. circumcision ritual as more of a cultural habit, not something rooted in sound medical science.

Circumcision removes a substantial part of the penis, which is not just "a piece of skin." The foreskin is a specialized, retractable sleeve of erogenous tissue that protects the head of the penis, can be manipulated during sex and masturbation, and amounts to about 50 square centimeters in the adul...

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