Recommendation by a law body to ban infant male circumcision has serious worldwide implications for pediatric practice and human rights

Michael J. Bates, John B. Ziegler, Sean E. Kennedy, Adrian Mindel, Alex D. Wodak, Laurie S. Zoloth, Aaron A Tobian, Brian J. Morris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Background: Recent attempts in the USA and Europe to ban the circumcision of male children have been unsuccessful. Of current concern is a report by the Tasmanian Law Reform Institute (TLRI) recommending that non-therapeutic circumcision be prohibited, with parents and doctors risking criminal sanctions except where the parents have strong religious and ethnic ties to circumcision. The acceptance of this recommendation would create a precedent for legislation elsewhere in the world, thereby posing a threat to pediatric practice, parental responsibilities and freedoms, and public health.Discussion: The TLRI report ignores the scientific consensus within medical literature about circumcision. It contains legal and ethical arguments that are seriously flawed. Dispassionate ethical arguments and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child are consistent with parents being permitted to authorize circumcision for their male child. Uncritical acceptance of the TLRI report's recommendations would strengthen and legitimize efforts to ban childhood male circumcision not just in Australia, but in other countries as well. The medical profession should be concerned about any attempt to criminalize a well-accepted and evidence-based medical procedure. The recommendations are illogical, pose potential dangers and seem unworkable in practice. There is no explanation of how the State could impose criminal charges against doctors and parents, nor of how such a punitive apparatus could be structured, nor how strength of ethnic or religious ties could be determined. The proposal could easily be used inappropriately, and discriminates against parents not tied to the religions specified. With time, religious exemptions could subsequently be overturned. The law, governments and the medical profession should reject the TLRI recommendations, especially since the recent affirmative infant male circumcision policy statement by the American Academy of Pediatrics attests to the significant individual and public health benefits and low risk of infant male circumcision.Summary: Doctors should be allowed to perform medical procedures based on sound evidence of effectiveness and safety with guaranteed protection. Parents should be free to act in the best interests of the health of their infant son by having him circumcised should they choose.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number136
JournalBMC Pediatrics
Volume13
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 8 2013

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Male Circumcision
Parents
Pediatrics
Public Health
United Nations
Religion
Insurance Benefits
Nuclear Family
Legislation
Consensus
Safety

Keywords

  • American Academy of Pediatrics
  • Australia
  • Circumcision
  • Ethics
  • Infancy
  • Law
  • Public health
  • Religion
  • Surgery
  • Tasmanian Law Reform Institute

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health

Cite this

Bates, M. J., Ziegler, J. B., Kennedy, S. E., Mindel, A., Wodak, A. D., Zoloth, L. S., ... Morris, B. J. (2013). Recommendation by a law body to ban infant male circumcision has serious worldwide implications for pediatric practice and human rights. BMC Pediatrics, 13(1), [136]. https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-2431-13-136

Recommendation by a law body to ban infant male circumcision has serious worldwide implications for pediatric practice and human rights. / Bates, Michael J.; Ziegler, John B.; Kennedy, Sean E.; Mindel, Adrian; Wodak, Alex D.; Zoloth, Laurie S.; Tobian, Aaron A; Morris, Brian J.

In: BMC Pediatrics, Vol. 13, No. 1, 136, 08.09.2013.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Bates, Michael J. ; Ziegler, John B. ; Kennedy, Sean E. ; Mindel, Adrian ; Wodak, Alex D. ; Zoloth, Laurie S. ; Tobian, Aaron A ; Morris, Brian J. / Recommendation by a law body to ban infant male circumcision has serious worldwide implications for pediatric practice and human rights. In: BMC Pediatrics. 2013 ; Vol. 13, No. 1.
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