For the time being, the American Academy of Pediatrics has taken a totally neutral stance on the matter. There are studies that both support and refute the practice of circumcision. One study by Australian researchers, published in the Annals of Family Medicine, analyzed eight studies and found that risks of major complications range from 2 percent to 10 percent. According to the study’s lead author, researcher Caryn Perera of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons said, “These may be considered unacceptable for an elective procedure.” Other findings of the review suggest that the circumcision procedure may be psychologically harmful, and that there is no evidence to support having an infant boy circumcised will lessen his risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases later in life.
Conversely, a second review that analyzed three studies involving circumcision in Africa indicates otherwise. Reported in the most recent issue of the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, Dr. Thomas Quinn of Johns Hopkins University and colleagues found that that circumcision performed on adult men has a significantly positive impact on the prevention of such diseases as AIDS. Findings also revealed that the risk of complications from circumcision is less than 1 percent, and that “serious long-term complications are extremely rare.”
Many experts agree that since the majority of adult men in the U.S. (79 percent) are already circumcised, it is unlikely that a circumcision policy will have a significant effect on the rates of HIV infection. There is little evidence that circumcision provides protection against HIV/AIDS among homosexual men in the United States. In fact, a research team from the CDC analyzed data on 53,567 homosexual men and found that HIV levels among the 52 percent who were circumcised were not significantly lower than levels among the men who were not circumcised.
What do you think? Should circumcision be regulated by the government?
UPDATE 7/11/11: The San Francisco initiative to outlaw circumcision within city and county limits has made its way to the ballot for a November vote. The referendum, as it is written, is restricted to circumcision in citizens under the age of 18. Once age of consent is reached, it could be legally performed.
The most vocal argument against this ballot initiative is religion-based. Circumcision is integral to both the Jewish and Muslim religions and by restricting their right to an ancient and sacred ceremony treads on First Amendment rights.
The San Francisco City Attorney's Office has joined legal efforts to remove the initiative from the ballot, based on concerns that it is an infringement on religious practice.