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See the bottom of the post. The AAP report on circumcision: They now state that the probabilistic health benefits conferred by the procedure outweigh the known risks and harms. That turns out to be a very fine line to Kitchen table ethics on. The AAP appears to be out of tune with world opinion on this issue.
Indeed, child health experts in Britain, Germany, Scandinavia, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and elsewhere are predominately of the view that non-therapeutic circumcision NTC confers no meaningful health benefits on balance considered against drawbacks, harms, and risksand that it should be neither recommended to parents nor funded by health insurance systems.
In view of this empirical uncertainty on the medical question, it is problematic to assert, as the AAP does in its new report, that a person does not retain the right to decide whether he wishes to keep his own healthy foreskin—and thus preserve his genitals intact—and that the right Kitchen table ethics instead to his parents.
Parental rights On the question of parental rights, a point of comparison is frequently raised, including the example of ear-piercing for little girls.
And how is circumcision any different? By contrast, male circumcision removes up to half of the skin system of the peniseliminates the motile and protective functions of the foreskin, cannot be tolerated without anesthesia, and is irreversible: Rather, it is precisely the level of harm involved, the degree of functional diminishment, the irreversibility, the impossibility of attaining any input from the person whose body indeed whose penis is to be permanently surgically altered, and so on, that mark out infant male circumcision as a specially problematic practice.
Parents can of course give proxy consent for needful therapeutic procedures aimed at treating a known pathology. A healthy foreskin, however, is not a pathology.
It needs no treatment at all. Health benefits and medical ethics According to the Seattle-based physicians group Doctors Opposing Circumcisionthere is neither a medical nor an ethical case for removing healthy genital tissue from baby boys.
In any case, these are afflictions whose prevention is much more soundly assured by the use of a condom and other safe sex practices in adulthood than by genital surgery in infancy. So how did the AAP reach its much-hyped, yet ultimately fallaciousand as I will argue, ethically unjustified conclusion?
Here they depart from their statement in asserting that 1 the benefits of the surgery definitively outweigh the risks and costs and 2 that it is therefore justifiable to perform the operation without the informed consent of the patient. This does not follow. It has no relevance to nonessential amputative surgery, especially when it involves the removal of healthy, functional erogenous tissue from the genitals, and when once again safer, more effective substitute strategies exist for achieving the same ends.
If they had taken the time to consider human rights and bodily integrity issuesthe function of the foreskin, its value to the individual, and his possible wishes in later life, as well, their computations would arguably yield a different answer.
Some readers will be unaware that the AAP is not a dispassionate scientific research bodybut rather a trade association for pediatricians.
Given the yawning potential for a financial conflict of interest, then, there needs to be a very strong, independent medical case for circumcision; and the AAP had better be able to show that it is both the safest and most cost effective means of promoting infant health.
Both of these propositions fail, however, as I will continue to show in what follows. This policy was in line with the still-current official position of every other major medical association in the world. Except, actually, those that now actively campaign against circumcision, such as the Royal Dutch Medical Association in Holland.
For the AAP to revise its stance, then, it stands to reason that something must have changed—either human biology has altered, or some new evidence must have cropped up—to justify tipping the cost-benefit scales away from their recently prior equilibrium.
Indeed, the AAP circumcision task force makes much ado of a collection of studies conducted in Africa between and purporting to show a link between circumcision and a reduced risk of becoming infected with HIV.
The AAP policy, by contrast, is concerned with circumcision in infancy, a procedure for which there is literally no evidence of a protective effect against HIV.
This is in contrast to females, for whom circumcision of the male partner is apparently a risk factor for becoming infected with HIV. The New York Times continues: Whether such a reduction will have meaningful ramifications at the population level is the subject of ongoing dispute.
The same holds for countries such as Australia, and New Zealand, and indeed most anywhere else in the developed world. The epidemiological and social environments are just flatly non-analogous — as this study shows.The Ethics Of Judges' Table: A 'Top Chef' Quandary Ethics show up in the strangest places.
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