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J Nurse Midwifery. 1992 Mar-Apr;37(2 Suppl):87S-96S.

Circumcision. A medical or a human rights issue?

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  • 1National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers, San Anselmo, CA 94979-2512.


American parents and health care professionals are faced with medical/ethical dilemmas regarding whether or not to respect the natural integrity of the male newborn's body. In the English-speaking countries, where circumcision of infants was initially adopted to prevent masturbation, medical "reasons" were postulated to justify a practice most of the world has never considered. This resulted in a spectrum of medical recommendations for surgical removal of normal genital tissue in all male newborns to prevent diseases (foreskin inflammation, urinary tract infections, and sexually transmitted diseases) that could be effectively treated medically without the risks of surgery. Only by denying the existence of excruciating pain, perinatal encoding of the brain with violence, interruption of maternal-infant bonding, betrayal of infant trust, the risks and effects of permanently altering normal genitalia, the right of human beings to sexually intact and functional bodies, and the right to individual religious freedoms can human beings continue this practice.

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