As of 2009, only 32.5 percent of males in the United States were circumcised compared to 56 percent in 2006. And only in the United States is the circumcision of male infants for non-therapeutic reasons routinely performed. So, for my Hot Topic Tuesday question of the week, I ask: “Should the government ban the routine circumcision of male infants?”
I am torn over the issue of governmental bans on routine infant circumcision (RIC). On the one hand, I do not like the thought of the government intruding on my personal life. As I have previously written while debating a governmental ban on RIC, “I think a better course of action would be to better education parents on RIC. Hospitals, too, can refuse to perform elective procedures like RIC.” Just as hospitals are refusing elective inductions and elective cesareans, hospitals too can and should refuse to perform circumcisions on non-consenting child without a legitimate medical reason.
On the other hand, the female equivalent of male circumcision, female genital mutilation (FGM), was banned in the United States in 1996. I never want to see this ban repealed. Just like routine infant circumcision, female genital mutilation is rarely if never medically necessary. I believe that a ban on FGM is good and probably necessary.
I also believe that RIC is unnecessary and therefore unnecessarily dangerous. In fact, between 117 and 229 male infants die each year in the United States as a result of routine infant circumcision. Because RIC is not necessary, all of those deaths could have been prevented.
Death is not the only complication associated with male circumcision. Some of the complications include hemorrhage, infection, blockage of the urethra, and loss of the penis. A link between circumcision and erectile dysfunction may also exist.
In a perfect world, parents would be informed enough to never choose circumcision for their baby boys without a legitimate medical reason. In a perfect world, too, doctors and hospitals would also refuse to perform RIC. However, the world in which we live is far from perfect. Parents continue to choose RIC for their male infants. Doctors and hospitals also continue to perform the medically unnecessary procedure.
So, in light of the unnecessariness and dangerousness of routine circumcision, is a governmental ban on the procedure needed in the United States? I personally am still undecided. However, I am starting to lean more in the direction of supporting a governmental ban. After all, if a ban saves the life of just one baby, then I am in full support.
What do you think about governmental bans on routine infant circumcision?.
Next week’s Hot Topic Tuesday subject: What do you think about the law that requires the workplace to provide a mother with a time and a place to pump breast milk?
Complications of circumcision: http://www.circumstitions.com/Complic.html
Drop-side cribs outlawed: MGM continues: http://www.savingsons.org/2010/12/drop-side-cribs-outlawed-mgm-continues.html
Female genital mutilation: An issue of cultural relativism or human rights?: http://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/jc.htm
United States circumcision incidence: http://www.cirp.org/library/statistics/USA/
Say No to Circumcision: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Anti-circumcision_Capitol.jpg