27 August 2012
Circumcising baby boys has clear health benefits and parents should feel free to have it done, but they should not feel pressured to do so, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the leading pediatric group in the US, has said. Circumcision lowered the risk of a range of diseases, from AIDS to herpes, and would not hurt sexual performance or pleasure in adulthood, the group said.
While the AAP did not go so far as to recommend circumcision as routine, it marked the group’s strongest endorsement yet of the sometimes controversial procedure. “Evaluation of current evidence indicates that the health benefits of newborn male circumcision outweigh the risks,” the AAP said in its latest update of its circumcision policy, released in the journal ‘Pediatrics’.
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,” the AAP said.
Though the numbers have circumcised boys in the United States has dropped from around 80 percent of newborn boys in 1980 to around 55 to 58 percent in 2010 circumcision is still routinely done for religious and cultural reasons among groups such as Jews and Muslims. The drop is explained by the fact that public insurance programs such as Medicaid often don’t pay for it any more. Eighteen states have stopped paying for circumcision under Medicaid, the US health insurance plan for the poor.
In July 2011, a judge prevented activists from putting a circumcision ban on the ballot for November in San Francisco but groups said they would keep trying.
In May, a Cologne court said circumcision inflicted bodily harm on babies who could not consent and said the pratice was illegal. The ruling dismayed and angered Jews and Muslims. A similar legal debate is currently ongoing in Austria.
On Saturday, it was reported that the government of Denmark commissioned an investigation into whether non-medical circumcision procedures violate its health code. “We will examine the public health recommendations followed in this area,” Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt told the ‘Politiken’ newspaper. The chief rabbi of Denmark, Bent Lexner, was quoted by the daily as saying that he did not think the launching of the investigation reflected distrust on the government’s part.
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