Here is an outrageous editorial by the San Francisco Chronicle and our letter in response.

San Franscisco Chronicle Editorial
CDC should recommend routine circumcision

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are weighing a proposal to recommend routine circumcision for all baby boys born in the United States to curb the spread of HIV and other infections. The CDC should ignore the cries of outrage from so-called “intactivists” and recommend the procedure. The evidence shows that the benefits of circumcision outweigh the risks.

This shouldn’t even be controversial. Nearly 80 percent of adult American men are already circumcised, and they seem to be getting through life just fine. Studies have shown that circumcision can reduce HIV infection rates for heterosexual men by half. Observational studies have also shown that circumcised men have lower rates of other sexually transmitted diseases (like herpes and syphilis), cancer of the penis and urinary tract infections. What’s the problem, again?

Well, the problem centers on the hysterical intactivists, who believe that: A. circumcision is “mutilation”; and that B. baby boys should be able to “decide for themselves,” as though families have no right to make decisions about their children’s health, treatment and culture. (Not to mention the health and safety of the larger society.) The CDC should recommend routine circumcision.

ARC Reply

We are astounded by your biased editorial regarding circumcision (CDC should recommend routine circumcision; August 31, 2009, p. A-10).

Opposition to circumcision is based on cold facts such as the 2007 British Journal of Urology study proving the lifelong damage to sexual sensitivity caused by this medically baseless procedure. Even the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics agree with all other national medical organizations worldwide on the lack of justification for neonatal circumcision. Europeans don’t do it and have fewer STDs and lower HIV rates than we do. And it should be controversial, as the three African studies were hopelessly muddled and recent evidence suggests that women’s HIV rates may be 50% higher as a result of the procedure.

Your choice of the word hysterical to describe opposition to circumcision is fascinating as the word stems from hysterectomies, another excision of a sexual organ to solve a perceived social problem and a procedure that is also often unnecessary. Yes, families can make decisions about their children’s health, but non-prophylactic amputation of male genital tissue without medical basis should be no more permissible than a similar procedure on girls.

J. Steven Svoboda
Attorneys for the Rights of the Child
2961 Ashby Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94707