On January 24, 2024, on behalf of Attorneys for the Rights of the Child, Steven Svoboda submitted feedback to the New Hampshire House Health, Human Rights, and Elderly Affairs Committee regarding two bills that are currently pending and on which testimony will be heard on January 25th: HB1683-FN (Children’s Body Autonomy Act stopping Medicaid funding of circumcision) and HB1706-FN (Circumcision Transparency Act requiring that New Hampshire parents be fully informed before agreeing to having their son circumcised).

Here are the texts of our two submissions:

TO MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE HEALTH, HUMAN SERVICES, AND ELDERLY AFFAIRS COMMITTEE

I am the founder in 1997 and Executive Director of Attorneys for the Rights of the Child (ARC), a non-profit primarily aimed at educating the public (including New Hampshire’s residents and voters) about the lack of medical necessity for and the harm of male circumcision. I have published more than forty-five peer-reviewed articles about genital cutting. In 2001, I put the issue of male circumcision as a human rights violation in the official United Nations record for the first time. In 2002, I received a Human Rights Award for this work. In 2013, I unofficially won a debate about the ethics of male circumcision with an epidemiologist and member of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Circumcision Task Force.

I urge you to approve HB1683-FN, the Children’s Body Autonomy Act. The taxpayers of New Hampshire should not use scarce public funds to pay for a procedure that is not medically necessary and has a complication rate on healthy baby boys of over 10%.

Some commentators have expressed an admirable though misguided concern that HB1683-FN might deprive relatively low income people of a circumcision for their child. This is not a genuine shortcoming of the bill, since male circumcision is a cosmetic procedure lacking any genuine documented medical benefit and carrying a risk of harm and complications. It is contrary to the public interest to pay for it to be done to anyone regardless of their economic status. Moreover, it is unlawful to use Medicaid to pay for unnecessary medical services. Ending Medicaid coverage of male circumcision will prevent the wasting of scarce health care resources, and will free up public funds to serve actual medical needs of New Hampshire’s residents. Currently, physicians bill Medicaid for the procedure despite the above-mentioned lack of medical necessity, using false diagnoses such as “newborn boys” (which is not a proper diagnosis) or “phimosis” when the procedure is performed later in childhood. Such billing is either reckless and/or appears to constitute Medicaid fraud.

Physicians in the U.S. portray it as medicine but insofar as it is virtually never medically necessary, and parents usually elect it for personal, cultural, and/or religious reasons, it is a cultural practice cloaked as medicine.

J. Steven Svoboda, M.S., J.D.

TO MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE HEALTH, HUMAN SERVICES, AND ELDERLY AFFAIRS COMMITTEE

I am the founder in 1997 and Executive Director of Attorneys for the Rights of the Child (ARC), a non-profit primarily aimed at educating the public (including New Hampshire’s residents and voters) about the lack of medical necessity for and the harm of male circumcision. I have published more than forty-five peer-reviewed articles about genital cutting. In 2001, I put the issue of male circumcision as a human rights violation in the official United Nations record for the first time. In 2002, I received a Human Rights Award for this work. In 2013, I unofficially won a debate about the ethics of male circumcision with an epidemiologist and member of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Circumcision Task Force.

I urge you to approve HB1706-FN, the Circumcision Transparency Act, which will require that New Hampshire parents be fully informed before they agree to allow their sons to be circumcised. The consent form will be required to explain clearly and specifically what male circumcision does, that there is a lack of evidence that it provides a genuine medical benefit, and that there are a number of complications that it can cause. Moreover, this bill will prohibit medical practitioners and hospitals from actively soliciting parental consent for this unnecessary surgery, often when the parents are exhausted after their son has just been born.

Medical professionals commonly solicit parental “consent” from parents for male circumcision, who may know nothing about the surgery, without telling them what the procedure entails, and/or without informing parents that it is unnecessary surgery.

Physicians in the U.S. portray it as medicine but insofar as it is virtually never medically necessary, and parents usually elect it for personal, cultural, and/or religious reasons, it is a cultural practice cloaked as medicine.

Because mothers have just given birth and may be legally incapacitated, parental permission granted by the mother for the procedure is often coerced. Since the parental permission is virtually never fully informed, the parental permission is legally invalid and the operation constitutes an unlawful battery.

J. Steven Svoboda, M.S., J.D.