Carol Lannon, MD;
The AAP Task Force on Circumcision;
Dr Joe Sanders and the AAP Board
PO Box 927
Elk Grove Village, IL 60009
Dear Dr. Lannon, Dr. Sanders, Task Force and Board Members,
We are writing to apprise you of the seriousness of the AAP’s Task Force on Circumcision’s and your actions if you issue a policy statement that, in any way, endorses partial penile amputation circumcision or forced prepuce retraction, with or without anesthesia. Contemporary national and international research, ethics and logic, history, as well as the lack of endorsement by any national medical associations worldwide show us that prophylactic circumcision is unnecessary as well as harmful.
If you issue a policy statement which approves or condones an unnecessary procedure which is known to cause serious injury and death, you, the Task Force and the AAP could be held legally accountable.
Pediatricians who perform this procedure cannot abdicate their legal responsibilities by saying the parents “requested” their son be circumcised or even “consented” to it. If a parent wants a doctor to amputate a childs’ body part, the physician must make an independent assessment and decision about the value of such a procedure. If an irreversible procedure has no clear medical justification, the physician must refuse to fulfill the parents’ request. Only the person affected can consent to damaging cosmetic procedures, and with infant circumcision this is clearly not possible.
The AAP, of course, has a responsibility to protect its members from lawsuits and criminal action. A solution to this dilemma has been suggested to the AMA by one of our members. The AAP could join with the AMA to lobby Congress to pass a law prohibiting Male Genital Mutilation, as they have already done with Female Genital Mutilation (S.1030 in effect April 1997).
This would solve the critical problem that male minors would receive the same protections afforded their sisters guaranteed by the provisions of the 5th, 14th and 19th Amendments to the United States Constitution which provide equal protection and prohibit sex discrimination. Those who performed circumcisions prior to the effective date of the law would be protected from prosecution under Federal Law.
In the meantime, the AAP and its Task Force on Circumcision can seriously consider a moratorium on medically non indicated circumcision to coincide with the Task Force’s release of its policy statement on circumcision.
Please understand that Doctors Opposing Circumcision, and Attorneys for the Rights of the Child, as non profit organizations, view ourselves as fulfilling one of the most important civic duties available to American citizens. By providing this information, we are fulfilling our responsibility to the Task Force, the AAP and the physicians they represent as well as our responsibility to protect the babies, all of whom are adversely affected by circumcision.
George C Denniston MD MPH, President, D.O.C.
J. Steven Svoboda Esq, Director, ARC