Friday, June 12, 2009

Circumcision - To Cut or Not to Cut? Part II

The post below displays a discussion that has been occurring regarding circumcision. In the comments section an excellent article was linked to. I highly recommend reading an article orignally published in the American Journal on Bioethics - "Between prophylaxis and child abuse: the ethics of neonatal male circumcision" - and then the authors' response to criticisms. It is a fine example of balance, arguments based upon evidence and/or reason and an appreciation of the nuaced aspects of an issue.


Anonymous Hugh7 said...

Balanced? Not exactly. Consider "This can be seen if we consider other surgical procedures such as breast reduction, liposuction, and rhinoplasty. These are all procedures that alter the appearance of parts of a person. Those who request such procedures do not take them to be disfiguring. Similarly, those who circumcise their sons do not take removal of the foreskin to be disfiguring." Notice the silent slippage between "those who request such procedures [for THEMSELVES]" and "those who circumcise THEIR SONS". Whose body is it? So who has the right to decide whether they have been disfigured?

The Benatars' article, while claiming "balance" is actually heavily biased towards circumcision in this way from beginning to end. Their responses to criticisms are full of similar sophistry and jesuitry. They use the false dichotomy "compelling prophylactic measure"/"form of child abuse" to justify parental discretion over something that wholly concerns another person. The fact that a considerable and growing number of men are coming out that they resent being circumcised - and go to considerable trouble to undo it - underlines this.

12:36 AM  
Blogger Jonathan Abrams said...

Hugh7, that quote was taken out of context, nice 'gotcha' there.

They were not arguing about consent in that paragraph. They were explaining that the removing of a body part is not 'defacto' mutilation.

They deal with consent in another paragraph. Also, check the follow up article, they address your exact point! Look up the paragraph that starts: "Both Michelle Mullen (2003) and J. Steven Svoboda (2003) take exception to what we say, in our discussion of mutilation, about such surgical procedures as breast reduction, liposuction and rhinoplasty."

1:02 AM  
Anonymous Melissa said...

I work as a nurse in Labor and Delivery, and postpartum. At the hospital that I was at previously I had the unfortunate experience of having to assist doctors with circumcision for newborns. All the baby was given was glucose water and a soother for pain, nothing following the procedure either. The first time I assisted, I almost passed out - it was awful; that baby was in so much pain and got nothing for it. I'm sure it has an impact on that baby for the rest of his life. Although we are not able to recall memories, as we know them as adults, from when we were babies/infants, I'm positive an experience of that magnitude of pain would be etched somewhere in our brain.

Where I work now, circumcision is a rare occurrence, and the decision is usually made by a circumcised father because he wants his son to "look like him".

The only doctor that I have assisted at this hospital uses a new technique which I will attest is painless for the baby because they tend to sleep right through it. She also gives the baby an Rx for Tylenol following the procedure. Although it appears to be a painless technique, perhaps the "colic" that the baby experiences for the next few weeks may be attributed to pain?

I could go on with infection rates, formation of scar tissue, errors in removing too much or not enough tissue, nerve damage etc, however there is enough scientific data out there if you want statistics. My only question regarding that is how much of it is under reported, we will never know. Nor will we ever know how it affects a male later in life regarding sexual intimacy, and not just in the act of intercourse itself.

3:44 AM  

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