In 2013 we debated the ethics of infant circumcision against two of the committee members behind the AAP’s infamous 2012 policy statement. The debate took place in Charleston over two days (Oct. 18-19) at the Medical University of South Carolina.
This remarkable 2-day conference was extensively documented in the ARC Newsletter, Volume 10, Issue 2, with articles by Peter Adler, Aubrey Terron, and Steven Svoboda, three ARC team members who were present.
Steven’s report can also be found in the ARC blog, in both abridged and unabridged versions. (The unabridged version delves briefly into some issues that we didn’t want to publicly address at the time of the debate.)
The October 18th Q&A session with Steven Svoboda and Dr. Michael Brady can be seen below. The video begins in the final moments of Steven’s presentation preceding the Q&A session.
Also on the first day, October 18th, 2013, Dr. Brady and Attorney Svoboda each gave 30-minute presentations prior to the Q&A session:
Audio recorded on the second day demonstrates that two members of the AAP Circumcision Task Force — Dr. Brady and Dr. Douglas Diekema — do not know the foreskin’s functions and incorrectly believe that no one knows them. Two other physicians on the panel told Steven that they changed their positions to pro-intact based on the evidence we presented.
Dr. Brady effectively conceded defeat on the second day, using only one quarter of the allotted 5 minutes for his closing statement, and stating that he was unable to respond to any of our arguments.
Panel for Twentieth Pitts Lectureship on Pediatric Ethics, Charleston, SC October 19, 2013. (l. to r.) Norman Fost, Douglas Diekema, Minoo Kavarana, Steven Svoboda, Eric Graham, Michael Brady, Stan Block, Melissa Wasserstein
In 2017, we hired well-known filmmaker and activist Eliyahu Ungar-Sargon to prepare six short videos about various issues that arose in the debate and Brady’s and Svoboda’s ways of addressing them:
- AAP’s Perspective of UTI Risk Overblown
- Sexual Function Loss Ignored by the AAP
- The AAP Confuses HIV Statistics to push Circumcision
- The AAP Doesn’t Know the Functions of the Foreskin
- Complications of Circumcision Understated by the AAP
- Biases in the Making of the AAP’s Circumcision Policy Revealed
This landmark debate has inspired much discussion in the academic literature. See, for example: