Circumcision is a hot topic in the US. It’s a discussion that until I moved here wasn’t even something that I ever thought about. To me, it’s a bizarre practice rooted in either religious doctrine or bad medical advice that just won’t die and most people who are not American, Jewish or Muslim would tend to agree.
In the UK, circumcision is uncommon. Along with countries like Australia and Canada, the UK made a decision to stop routinely practicing it on newborn boys in the middle of the 20th century after medical research increasingly pointed to it being more dangerous than leaving the foreskin intact.
This excellent lecture by Ryan McAllister, a research assistant professor at Georgetown University removes the misinformation and emotions from the equation and just looks at the argument intelligently.
For example, if the idea of circumcision doesn’t make you wince, what about female genital cutting (removal of some or all of the clitoris and/or other external genitalia)? Why do we view this any differently than circumcision?
Is it really our right to remove a perfectly healthy and functional part of our son’s body without his consent?
And if someone asked you to remove your foreskin in adulthood, would you do it? Probably not, because it’s a pretty painful procedure. And it’s even more so for an infant whom has his foreskin forcibly detached from the glans while yours is already detached.
I think it’s about time that Americans (the only developed country with such a high rate of circumcision) rethink why they circumcise their boys to avoid unnecessary pain and suffering.
Many more countries have a very high rate of circumcision but this is typically for religious reasons. While I still don’t think this is a good reason for performing circumcision, I can understand adhering to traditions for religious reasons far easier than bad medical advice (as is typically the case in the States).
If someone watches this (or otherwise reviews the argument from a neutral point of view) and still decides that circumcision is right for their son, then so be it: who am I to pass judgment? However, I have to believe that the bulk of people that watch this with an open mind might think twice before allowing someone to remove their son’s foreskin.