We submitted the following letter to the Washington Post in response to the terrible article by Rob Stein published yesterday, titled “Male Circumcision: Leading Health Authorities Debate Benefits.” URL of original article: www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/discussion/2010/01/19/DI2010011901691.html
ARC Letter to Washington Post
To the Editor:
(Re: Male Circumcision: Leading Health Authorities Debate Benefits 1-19-10)
Circumcision’s so-called “health benefits” are based on three methodologically and ethically flawed studies. Among other things they aren’t telling you: Among industrialized nations, the US has the highest rate of both HIV infection and circumcision. And HIV, tragic as it is, is increasingly coming under control anyway. Certainly it is senseless to be cutting males now, thereby causing proven harm, on the outside chance that, decades in the future, it might help protect them from possible consequences of unsafe behavior.
African studies of adult men are entirely inapplicable to babies in the US as the public health conditions and transmission modalities are utterly different. The recent African studies demonstrated that women’s vulnerability to HIV infection may actually be increased by circumcision.
Studies have shown that female genital cutting may help stop HIV too, yet no one proposes instituting female circumcision in the US (or anywhere). Despite astronomically higher rate of breast cancer, we rightly refuse to consider prophylactically amputating women’s breasts. The default must be not to cut. Physicians have no business performing this cultural practice masquerading as a medical procedure, thereby denying baby boys the same rights enjoyed by girls and adults.
J. Steven Svoboda
Attorneys for the Rights of the Child