Opinion

Nipping the issue of male circumcision in the bud

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, surgery is “The practice of treating injuries, deformities, and other disorders by manual operation or instrumental appliances.” The foreskin of a newborn male’s penis is neither deformed nor injured during a normal birth. Thus, circumcision is a medically unnecessary, cosmetic procedure. And yet, there’s little concern in our society about the injustice carried out every time a newborn male is circumcised.

Not considering male circumcision a form of mutilation is a misconception fueled by a lack of information. If one examines the facts concerning the procedure, it becomes clear the practice, relatively new to the United States, is inhumane.

In 1999, the American Academy of Pediatrics released a statement that concluded, “There was no absolute medical indication for routine circumcision.” In his book What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Circumcision, Dr. Paul Fleiss explains that “just as the eyelid protects the eye, the foreskin protects the end of the penis, keeping its surface soft, warm, moist and sensitive.”

Circumcision (usually performed without anesthesia) denudes an internal organ – the head of the penis – desensitizes the rich nerve network of the penile skin, disables the remaining skin from naturally gliding over the penis and disfigures the penis by leaving a marked scar and leaving the penis head exposed. The retardation of nerve endings on the penis reduces the amount of pleasure that a circumcised male can enjoy during sexual intercourse and masturbation.

Furthermore, when an adult decides to circumcise a newborn male, he’s robbing him of his basic human rights. Should we cut off the pinky fingers of newborns since we rarely use them? After all, neither fingers nor foreskin can grow back.

People of the Jewish and Muslim faiths have practiced circumcision for more than a millennium. However, a newspaper article recently published in New Jersey discussed the realization among a certain number of Jews that circumcising their newborn sons is a superfluous religious practice. After all, what if your son chooses to convert to another religion or become an atheist? Or, what if he simply wants to make the decision for himself and see if it aligns with his Jewish beliefs? These families have decided that their sons should make the decision for themselves.

Most heterosexual parents leave the decision of whether to circumcise their newborn sons to the father. If the father is circumcised he will usually decide to have the son “look like his father.” What they are really saying, however, is “I don’t want him to have what I don’t have.”

People across the world are wising up to this cruel practice. Ten states no longer allow Medicaid to pay for the procedure. Also, numerous advocacy groups such as Attorneys for the Rights of the Child and Doctors Opposing Circumcision have been established to respect and defend genital integrity.

Circumcising a newborn male is medically unnecessary, painful procedure that can seldom be reversed, and it is a violation of basic human rights.

If you believe in civil rights, in human rights and our God-given rights to control our own bodies, you need to oppose the circumcision of newborn males. No one has the right to perform a physically damaging, irreversible act on another human without their informed consent.

Horacio Sierra can be contacted at h.sierra@umiami.edu.

April 6, 2004

Reporters

The Miami Hurricane

Student newspaper at the University of Miami


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The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.