The American Academy of Pediatrics, five years after creating a multidisciplinary task force on circumcision, has revised their 1999 statement about the operation. Once neutral on the subject of circumcision, their new statement, Technical Report on male circumcision, contends: “Evaluation of current evidence indicates that the health benefits of newborn male circumcision outweigh the risks; furthermore, the benefits of newborn male circumcision justify access to this procedure for families who choose it.” This is the same trade organization that suggested a “ritual nick” for infant girls whose parents want to circumcise them (they later retracted it), and that issues breastfeeding guides funded by the infant formula industry. With this statement, the American Academy of Pediatrics proves once again that it promotes best evidence, healthy children, and people over profits.
If you forewent the operation when your son was an infant, it’s not too late!
Here are 12 reasons why the AAP is right and we parents should circumcise our sons:
1. You want his penis to lose length and width.
2. You are unconcerned by the risk that he’ll suffer from meatal stenosis, a condition caused by circumcision where scar tissue blocks the opening to the pee hole making urination painful or strained, that has caused my friend so much embarrassment over the years.
3. You want his penis to be different from the majority (over 70 percent) of men in the world.
4. You already know how you’ll spend the $2.3 million award if your son loses his penis from a botched operation.
5. You feel safer knowing he’s less likely to get a urinary tract infection, so you don’t mind taking the risk he could die from blood loss, which is what happened to Eric Keefe, a 6-week-old who passed away on June 14, 2008, the day after being circumcised.
6. You’d rather he have unprotected sex as an adult than use a condom.
7. You have no concern about letting a relative stranger use very sharp objects on your son’s genitals.
8. You plan to dye his hair black and buy him green contact lenses to match Daddy’s so you want his penis to match Daddy’s too.
9. You aren’t concerned about what my friend’s son is facing and what thousands of circumcised boys suffer from: penile adhesions resulting from scar tissue forming on the shaft of the penis that make erections painful (and sometimes even bloody) and often require follow-up surgery by a pediatric urologist.
10. You want the head of his penis to toughen up and become hard instead of remaining moist, lubricated, and sensitive because it is protected by his foreskin.
11. You’re prepared for the remorse that you’ll feel years afterwards, and the hard conversations you’ll have when he’s an adult and regrets your decision and asks you why you did that to him.
12. You don’t think the decision to change the penis he was born with should be left up to him.
Jennifer Margulis, Ph.D., is a senior fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University. Her writing has been published in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and Smithsonian Magazine. She is a former Fulbright fellow and the author/editor of five books. Her latest book, The Business of Baby: What Doctors Don’t Tell You, What Corporations Try to Sell You, and How to Put Your Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Baby Before Their Bottom Line, was published by Scribner in April 2013.