Germany’s official Paediatric Association, the Berufsverband der Kinder- und Jugendärtze (BVKJ), has joined the Dutch Medical Association and broken its silence on infant circumcision – scoring two major points for genital integrity.

The BVKJ prominently cites Attorneys for the Rights of the Child and our e-letter to Pediatrics criticizing the AAP Technical Report and Policy Statement. Since our e-letter was not published by Pediatrics, the BVKJ presumably found it on our website.

A warm thank you to Martin N. for this translation of the pertinent paragraph of the statement (the full translation appears here):

The American lawyers’ association for children’s rights, ARC, has likewise criticized the AAP position statement in a letter to Pediatrics magazine. The letter highlighted errors and inconsistencies, and went so far as to challenge the AAP’s own bioethics representations as contravening numerous civil and criminal provisions of the law.

Here is James Chegwidden’s report on the BVKJ statement. James is a UK barrister and a highly valued collaborator in our work:

First, the Association gave evidence on November 28 to the German Bundestag, which is debating a bill authorising non-therapeutic circumcision of male minors. Its President (Dr Wolfram Hartmann) has composed and signed a long statement on behalf of the BVKJ (link below; apart from the English language abstract on page 8, the document is in German but apparently eventually is to be released in English for worldwide distribution). The conclusion: “The bill before Parliament (authorising ritual child circumcision) ought for paediatric reasons to be utterly rejected”. It urges the government to opt for an alternative, allowing circumcision for adults who consent to circumcision but banning non-therapeutic circumcision on anyone under 14 years of age.

Secondly, the document also goes strongly on the attack against the AAP’s technical report and policy statement on circumcision, criticising the AAP’s bias and its conclusions.

Here is the abstract:

“The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently released its new technical report and policy statement on male circumcision, concluding that current evidence indicates that the health benefits of newborn male circumcision outweigh the risks. The technical report is based on the scrutiny of a large number of complex scientific articles. Therefore, while striving for objectivity, the conclusions drawn by the eight task force members reflect what these individual doctors perceived as trustworthy evidence. Seen from the outside, cultural bias reflecting the normality of non-therapeutic male circumcision in the US seems obvious, and the report’s conclusions are different from those reached by doctors in other parts of the Western world, including Europe, Canada, and Australia. In this commentary, a quite different view is presented by non-US-based doctors and representatives of general medical associations and societies for pediatrics, pediatric surgery and pediatric urology in Northern Europe. To these authors, there is but one of the arguments put forward by the AAP that has some theoretical relevance in relation to infant male circumcision, namely the possible protection against urinary tract infections in infant boys, which can be easily treated with antibiotics without tissue loss. The other claimed health benefits, including protection against HIV/AIDS, genital herpes, genital warts and penile cancer, are questionable, weak and likely to have little public health relevance in a Western context, and do not represent compelling reasons for surgery before boys are old enough to decide for themselves.” – German Paediatric Association (BVKJ)

Steven Svoboda
Attorneys for the Rights of the Child