On Tuesday, April 8, 2014, Steven Svoboda sent the New York Times a letter to the editor in response to their article, “Circumcision Benefits Outweigh Risks, Study Reports,” which uncritically promotes Brian Morris’ latest article due to appear in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings Journal.

We were disappointed to see the New York Times publish an article (“Circumcision Benefits Outweigh Risks, Study Reports,” by Nicholas Bakalar; April 8, 2014) so strongly at odds with the Times’ generally high standards. A team of mostly European physicians recently concluded that the only arguable medical benefit of male circumcision is a slight reduction in urinary tract infections, but these can more cheaply and less painfully be treated with antibiotics. Claims regarding prostate cancer and cervical cancer were disproven decades ago. Studies have suggested that female circumcision may help prevent HIV but everyone correctly avoids proposing this on grounds of medical ethics and physical integrity. The same principles bar male circumcision, as has been recently concluded by the Council of Europe and the Royal Dutch Medical Association.

No objective person could seriously question what the vast majority of studies have documented, that removal of half the surface skin of the penis seriously impacts sexuality. The vaccination analogy is incoherent as unlike circumcision, vaccination doesn’t remove functional tissue.

The New York Times should know better.

J. Steven Svoboda
Executive Director
Attorneys for the Rights of the Child