End the Practice of Risky, Unnecessary Surgery on Non-Consenting Babies

  • by: Intact America
  • target: American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Family Physicians
Routine circumcision is ethically wrong - but the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) may become the first medical associations in the world to recommend it for all baby boys.

Earlier this year, an Atlanta family was awarded $2.3 million because a physician accidentally amputated much of a baby's penis during a "routine" hospital circumcision. A Canadian baby bled to death in 2004, after being circumcised in a British Columbia hospital. And in 2008, a baby from South Dakota bled to death, and his parents have filed suit.

We must continue to engage with doctors and decision-makers to prevent the AAP and AAFP from recommending infant circumcision! Add your support by asking the committees charged with reviewing the neutral positions on infant circumcision of both the AAP and AAFP NOT to revise those positions in favor of the surgery.
Dear [Decision Maker],

American parents trust their pediatricians and rely on them for the best advice in caring for their children. As a matter of ethics, that advice cannot include neonatal male circumcision - a medically unnecessary, potentially risky surgery that no major medical authority in the world recommends.

That is why I am asking the committees charged with reviewing the neutral positions on infant circumcision of both the American Academy of Pediatrics and American Academy of Family Physicians, NOT to revise those positions in favor of the surgery. Further, I ask you to take an ethical stand against the removal of a healthy, functioning body part - the prepuce, or foreskin - from non-consenting newborn babies.

The United States is the only western nation today where doctors routinely circumcise infant boys in medical settings. Although the rate has fallen from above 90 percent 30 years ago to below 60 percent today, still, more than one million American babies undergo the surgery every year to the tune of one billion dollars in health-care spending.

Now, based on studies conducted among adults in sub-Saharan Africa that found reduced transmission of HIV from women to men (though not from men to women, nor men to men), some are suggesting that the AAP and AAFP should recommend circumcision for all newborn males in the United States.

Doctors have a responsibility to tell parents the truth: circumcision does not prevent disease. Most European nations, with circumcision rates near zero, have lower HIV/AIDS rates than the United States. Circumcision rates in America do not correlate with HIV rates in any ethnic population or geographical region.

Furthermore, circumcision has significant risks, including infection, bleeding, impairment of sexual function, and even death. Earlier this year, an Atlanta family was awarded $2.3 million because a physician accidentally amputated much of a baby's penis during a "routine" hospital circumcision. A Canadian baby bled to death in 2004, after being circumcised in a British Columbia hospital. In 2008, a baby from South Dakota bled to death, and his parents have filed suit against the hospital where he was circumcised, as well as the doctor who performed the surgery.

Infrequent though complications may be, because the surgery is performed on healthy babies who have no need for it, each injury and each death is utterly indefensible. And even an "uncomplicated" infant circumcision permanently removes healthy functional tissue from a person who did not consent.

Growing numbers of medical professionals and expectant parents are saying "No" to infant circumcision. I urge the AAP's and AAFP's committees charged with reviewing circumcision policy, as well as all pediatricians, to make the same decision on behalf of the babies who are their patients.

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