The following is an excerpt from the Policy Statement of the Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia (2004) re health benefits and recommendations. The paper includes opinions from the UN Declaration of Human Rights and the American Academy of Pediatrics.
1. They state that "many" consider circumcision to be "mutilation"
2. The health benefits previously ascribed to the practice are no longer supported by current evidence-based medicine so routine infant circumcision is no longer recommended by Canadian physicians.
3. The procedure is now considered "non-therapeutic" (i.e. not performed as a necessary medical procedure).
4. It is acknowledged that cultural and religious practices that favour infant circumcision make the matter more complex.https://canadiancrc.com/circumcision/Male_Circumcision_Policy_Statement_College_Physicians_BC_JUN04.aspx
"Until recently, only public health and religious views were taken into consideration in the debate over infant male circumcision. However, our understanding of medical practice must change as research findings become available. The College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia is issuing this guide for physicians regarding routine infant male circumcision in light of evidence-based medicine and contemporary principles in ethics, law and human rights.
"Infant male circumcision was once considered a preventive health measure and was therefore adopted extensively in Western countries. Current understanding of the benefits, risks and potential harm of this procedure, however, no longer supports this practice for prophylactic health benefit. Routine infant male circumcision performed on a healthy infant is now considered a non-therapeutic and medically unnecessary intervention. From a religious standpoint, infant male circumcision is acknowledged to be an important ritual and an integral part of Jewish and Islamic religions. Male circumcision is also practiced in other parts of the world as a rite of puberty.
"A wider societal discussion on infant male circumcision is warranted based on a current understanding of bioethics that takes into account the non-therapeutic nature of the procedure as well as the high importance it plays in religious and traditional customs.
"Circumcision removes the prepuce that covers and protects the head or the glans of the penis. The prepuce is composed of an outer skin and an inner mucosa that is rich in specialized sensory nerve endings and erogenous tissue. Circumcision is painful, and puts the patient at risk for complications ranging from minor, as in mild local infections, to more serious such as injury to the penis, meatal stenosis, urinary retention, urinary tract infection and, rarely, even haemorrhage leading to death. The benefits of infant male circumcision that have been promoted over time include the prevention of urinary tract infections and sexually transmitted diseases, and the reduction in risk of penile and cervical cancer. Current consensus of medical opinion, including that of the Canadian and American Paediatric Societies and the American Urological Society, is that there is insufficient evidence that these benefits outweigh the potential risks. That is, routine infant male circumcision, i.e. routine removal of normal tissue in a healthy infant, is not recommended.
"To date, the legality of infant male circumcision has not been tested in the Courts. It is thus assumed to be legal if it is performed competently, in the childs best interest, and after valid consent has been obtained.
"At all times the physician must perform the procedure with competence, and at all times, the parent and physician must act in the best interests of the child. Signed parental consent for any treatment is assumed to be valid if the parent understands the nature of the procedure and its associated risks and benefits. However, proxy consent by parents is now being questioned. Many believe it should be limited to consent for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions, and that it is not relevant for non-therapeutic procedures.
"Human Rights Considerations"
"The matter of infant male circumcision is particularly difficult in regards to human rights, as it involves consideration of the rights of the infant as well as the rights of the parents.
"Under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, an infant has rights that include security of person, life, freedom and bodily integrity. Routine infant male circumcision is an unnecessary and irreversible procedure. Therefore, many consider it to be unwarranted mutilating surgery.
"Many adult men are increasingly concerned about whether their parents had the right to give consent for infant male circumcision. They claim that an infants rights should take priority over any parental rights to make such a decision. This procedure should be delayed to a later date when the child can make his own informed decision. Parental preference alone does not justify a non-therapeutic procedure.
"Others argue that this stance violates the parents right to religious or cultural expression, and that adherence to their religious and cultural practices would be in the best interests of the infant.
"Ethical considerations regarding infant male circumcision centre on the welfare (or best interests) of the infant and the potential benefit and harm associated with the procedure. Ethics points us to corrective vision, i.e. to question practices that have become routine, or which we take for granted.
"Therefore, each request for the procedure should be carefully evaluated, and an agreement to perform the procedure should take into consideration the ethical principles of beneficence (duty to benefit); non-maleficence (do no harm); veracity (accurate information); autonomy (consent); and justice (fairness).
"Beneficence (duty to benefit)
"Item 1. Consider first the well-being of the patient.
Item 14. Recommend only those diagnostic and therapeutic procedures that you consider to be beneficial to your patient and not others.
For Consideration: Medical evidence is that the benefits of routine infant male circumcision do not outweigh the risks of complications from the procedure. Best interests also take into account the infants social circumstances.
"Non-maleficence (do no harm)
"Item 33. Refuse to participate in or support practices that violate basic human rights.
"For Consideration: Routine infant male circumcision does cause pain and permanent loss of healthy tissue."
I wrote the following on another thread:
I don't have a strong opinion either way. Both my brothers were circ'd, just through common practice. However, one brother did not circ his son, due to changing/updated practices. It used to be more common for drs (at least in my world) to advocate doing the same thing for all males in a family - if father was done, so should sons be, if one son was circ'd, so should all other sons be. But I have the circ'd brother with his older son (a step-) done and the younger son (bio) not done. So far, the family hasn't fallen apart due to the differences. And now many drs ask parents to opt into doing it, rather than opting out as previously.
I can understand a religious practice that continues the practice. It would be a massive cultural change for some. Such is often s.l.o.w.
I was just interested in pointing out that it's not just a couple of people in these few threads that are questioning the need for routine circumcision. This professional article [excerpted above], with good sourcing, states that "many" consider the practice to be "unwarranted mutilating surgery". They use the word 'mutilating'. It's not meant to be offensive but rather is a statement of fact from a medical paper.
Other papers I have read on the subject specifically state that male circumcision is not akin to female genital mutilation (seems fairly obvious). However, I can see where people consider that the general *principle* is similar.
I don't think it ever hurts to examine one's cultural practices and preferences. So often we go along with something without giving it the consideration it is due. Familiarity breeds contempt, as they say. IOW, once a generation is accustomed to a certain practice the following generation/s may follow suit without thinking it through.
The more emphasis we can give on human rights being extended to everyone, including children and in this case, even babies, the more advanced we will become, I believe. Practices and opinions that were thought to be permissible or even advisable when I was a kid have gone out of style now, thankfully for some of them, such as "children should be seen and not heard", corporal punishment, being done to, rather than included in, etc. Obviously, the widespread practice of "amputating" a portion of a baby's penis (terminology used in some of the articles I checked out) is being re-thought and now, at the least, medical necessity is seen as a primary factor in the decision-making.
But a lot of room is still given for cultural and religious practice and preference. ...Pressure to change [may be] brought to bear. But here in Canada there is wide latitude given for diverse cultures and faiths. So I can't see change being mandatory any time soon.
I find it interesting to check out both sides. (I would come down on the side of human rights, to include infants).