by Alan Nicoll, copyright 2001

I am opposed to the circumcision of infants. Here are my reasons:

The reason circumcision is performed at all is for historical and religious reasons, not for medical reasons. Circumcision is not medically necessary; the medical societies now consider it optional, and will in time recommend against it because of the risks involved. The health benefits claimed are always statistically minor and so do not warrant the practice. Additionally, any putative health benefits mostly relate to adult males; to circumcise a baby today for benefits that are hoped to accrue decades later is unwarranted, because advances in medicine that will occur during those decades may make such prevention unnecessary. Also, to circumcise in the hope of preventing cervical cancer in a future sexual partner is clearly unethical, robbing Peter to pay Paul.

Circumcision is inhumane, because it is invasive, injurious, and painful. Removal of an equivalent amount of skin from any other part of the body, such as earlobes, would be considered mutilation, pure and simple. The only reason circumcision is not considered mutilation is again for historical and religious reasons which should carry no weight in a rational discussion of public policy. It's always been done, hence it's okay, seems to be the reasoning involved. The same argument can be made in favor of female circumcision among those cultures that favor it, yet this practice is viewed with horror by most Americans.

Circumcision reduces the sensitivity of the penis, and so reduces sexual pleasure in adult males, and a botched circumcision can ruin a man's life.

Circumcision removes a necessary protection of a sensitive part, as nude sunbathers discover. This protection is also important while clothed.

Circumcision is performed on a patient who cannot give his consent. Because it is not medically required, for reasons of medical ethics it should be withheld until consent is possible.

Circumcision is performed in the name of a religion which may be repudiated by the recipient when he becomes able to judge. For such persons, the religious purpose becomes nugatory. The bodies of children should not be sacrificed to the religion of their parents.

The religious purpose of circumcision may have been repudiated or made optional by the church of which the parents are members. Through ignorance of their own avowed beliefs, some parents will have unnecessary circumcisions performed.

The religious beliefs of many parents who permit the circumcision of their children are unexamined and not strongly held, thus nullifying the religious purpose of the procedure. When performed without a serious religious conviction of its necessity, the procedure is a mockery.

Circumcision is invasive, injurious, painful, expensive, and carries some risk. Because there are no compelling reasons in its favor, it must be omitted.