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April 18, 2014 / 18 Nisan, 5774
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Human Rights Lawyer Challenging AAP Pro-Circumcision Stance

"The AAP’s circumcision recommendations contradict its own bioethics policy statement, which requires pediatric care to be based only on the needs of the patient."


Photo Credit: Serge Attal/FLASH90

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Religious Jews don’t circumcise their male children because of the alleged medical benefits of this Biblical rite, but because it is a Biblical rite. Over the generations, popular and medical views on circumcision have shifted from hearty endorsements to strong rejections and all the positions in between, and Jews just continued to circumcise their sons.

Still, it is fascinating to see how this area of human behavior is evolving in keeping with the shifting social mores. Today, in the midst of all out political attacks on circumcision in Europe and the U.S., yet another assault on Brit Milah is making headlines.

“Attorneys for the Rights of the Child” J. Steven Svoboda and pediatrician Robert S. Van Howe, M.D. have published a new article in the Journal of Medical Ethics (JME), arguing that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) position regarding male circumcision lacks credible support.

The article, “Out of step: fatal flaws in the latest AAP policy report on neonatal circumcision,” is being published online today (subscription required).

Svoboda and Van Howe criticize the AAP’s apparent cultural bias in favor of circumcision, which they note puts the AAP firmly out of step with world medical opinion on this issue. They argue that the AAP documents suffer from troubling deficiencies, ultimately undermining their credibility. According to the authors, these deficiencies include the omission of critical issues, biased use of the medical literature, and conclusions that are not supported by the evidence given.

Svoboda commented, “The AAP ignores so many important topics that it is hard to know where to begin. For example, the anatomy and function of the foreskin are not mentioned in their documents, even though they propose to cut it off without first considering the harm and pain that result from its removal. The AAP’s circumcision recommendations contradict its own bioethics policy statement, which requires pediatric care to be based only on the needs of the patient. Non-therapeutic circumcision is incompatible with widely accepted ground rules for surgical intervention in minors.”

Dr. Van Howe, a Clinical Professor at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine, said, “When physicians decide whether to do a procedure, they must, and normally do, exclude from their medical decisions non-medical factors regarding the parents’ culture. Contrary to what the AAP suggests, doctors are not cultural brokers. Their duty is promoting and protecting the health of their patients, not following practices lacking a solid ethical and medical foundation.”

Svoboda asks, “Why is the AAP promoting public funding for an unnecessary and harmful surgery when we find ourselves struggling even to provide basic care for all our children? In these days of rising medical costs and scarce resources, we simply cannot afford to continue to carry out such a harmful and outmoded practice.”

The AAP‘s official position on this matter states:

The American Academy of Pediatrics finds that circumcision has potential medical benefits and advantages, as well as risks. A recent analysis by the AAP concluded that the medical benefits of circumcision outweigh the risks. We recommend that the decision to circumcise is one best made by parents in consultation with their pediatrician, taking into account what is in the best interests of the child, including medical, religious, cultural, and ethnic traditions and personal beliefs.

Your pediatrician (or your obstetrician if he or she would be performing the circumcision) should discuss the benefits and risks of circumcision with you and the forms of analgesia that are available.

A few months ago, the Royal Dutch Medical Association favorably cited an earlier version of Svoboda’s and Van Howe’s article, noting that even if benefits do exist the procedure can safely be delayed until the boy himself can make the decision.

Svoboda and Van Howe’s article appears at a similar publication date with a commentary to appear in the AAP’s own Pediatrics by thirty-eight leading European medical authorities, who have independently reached a conclusion consistent with Svoboda and Van Howe’s in criticizing the “cultural bias” in the AAP’s policy.

Much of what the two authors are arguing makes perfect sense, although the notion of delaying the decision of circumcision until the child grows up is disturbing, because the amount of pain endured by a grownup far exceeds the suffering of an 8-day old infant. But their argument regarding the inherent conflict in a doctor’s recommendation of a procedure that doesn’t have scientifically proven benefits appears cogent.

And as in so many other divine commandments Jews are embracing, our position is that we’re not doing it because of the benefits—should they exist—but to fulfill a commandment. As in “I would have loved to eat pork, there’s nothing wrong with it, but God has commanded me not to.”

Works for me.

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About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.

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106 Responses to “Human Rights Lawyer Challenging AAP Pro-Circumcision Stance”

  1. I've got no idea where you got your figures from. Since Obama took office unemployment has more than doubled and as far as "fuel independence" he has consistently torpedoed any drilling and most exploration so I don't know where you think that's coming from. I notice you didn't address his close personal relationship with Derrick Bell without question the most dangerous insidious one. It's bad enough his friends in the media wouldn't even mention it. Look him up and see what I mean.

  2. Arie's Pragmatic Politics says:

    Dan Silagi Stocks have gone up because the Fed is printing money to oblivion – great for the market, and that companies are sitting on hoards of cash, hoping they can force distribution. Manufacturing jobs are up now because they collapsed between 2009 and 2012. When you hit rock bottom, it can only go up. More manufacturing jobs are being created in CHina and Scandinavia thanks to obama's green energy loans and his buddies like his jobs czar from GE sending over 100,000 GE jobs abroad. The US has more oil, yet your beloved lord and savior is refusing to allow development for fear of giving his paymaster soros competition. Our energy balance is due not to any greater US development but due to reduced need due to a slow economy. The US auto industry is collapsing again, with GM approaching bankruptcy yet again. The US taxpayers will still lose tens of billions of dollars as obama's payback to the union votes he bought. Even his 'cash for clunkers' failed, with 80% of OUR TAXPAYER dollars going to Japan and Korea. He did not avert a second depression. When over half the population is dependent on public handouts to survive, it is a depression. Just because obama's socialist economists refuse to use the word does not change the facts on the ground. And if the GOP refusing to allow more tax increases to support the welfare addicts, then let us hope they succeed. Unemployment in the US continues to hover at 16%! THAT'S FACT – just go to the BLS site and dig thru the stats. UNDEREMPLOYMENT is at 22%!Unemployment for Blacks is at 14%. And under obama, pay equality for women continues to plummet, including his own WH staff where women are paid 18% less for the same jobs. And let's not forget the other pesky issues such as his willingness to assassinate US citizens IN the US and imprison without trial. And of course the massacre he created in Benghazi.

    Obama is naught more then a carpetbagging opportunistic profiteer and will do anything and allow murdered anyone to further his personal goals. ie: Benghazi!!

    Keep slurping the hallal kool aid.If obama has his way, you will pray not to be DEAD wrong. He is the main reason I will keep my gun handy

  3. Arie's Pragmatic Politics says:

    You can believe any way you wish. We will follow our beliefs the way we wish.

    The benefits of the First Amendment

  4. Arie's Pragmatic Politics says:

    The SF "Human Rights Activists" will do all they can to make Judaism illegal, yet have no issue promoting a country that hangs Gays as long as they too hate Jews and want Jews eliminated.


  5. No Arie, more and more are speaking out as they educate themselves, rather than react in ignorance. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UAGNnqyNidY The foreskin is an erotogenic organ that protects the glans, acts as a natural lubricant, and is rich with specialized mucosa and over 20,000 high-sensory nerve endings. http://www.livescience.com/health/070615_penis_sensitivity.html.

  6. Lots of women in some cultures are happy they were circumcised as babies. That doesn't make it ok to do to other babies. Male circumcision is equivalent to the removal of the clitoral foreskin which is one of several forms of female circumcision, all of which are illegal. Like it or not, the world is learning, and will continue to learn. Circumcision rates are dropping even in Israel.

  7. Ron Low says:

    ^^ See the pattern? The rest of us do! ^^

    Yeah, you're part of an ancient superstitious blood cult. Modern society is rejecting its barbarism.

  8. Thank you for respecting my beliefs. I respect yours. That's why I'd like you to have the freedom to make up your own mind about their own anatomy. I would have made a different choice for myself than was made for me.

  9. Catherine Schau says:

    Arie's Pragmatic Politics Muslims also circumcise and would also be affected by the ban. Additonally the vast majority of circumcisions in the US are not religious at all but for stupid reasons like "he should look like his father" or "it's cleaner".

  10. Catherine Schau says:

    Arie's Pragmatic Politics That's because female genital mutilation is already illegal at the federal level so there is no need to ban it at the state level. Also the "ban" was actually an age restriction-any male 18 or older could have himself circumcised if he wanted to do so. You are missing the point completely. Infant and child circumcision for any reason except clear and immediate medical necessity is a human rights violation. Person A's religious rights end where Person B begins, even if Person A is the parent and Person B is the child.

  11. It is no biblical rite, it is a biblical WRONG!

  12. Arie's Pragmatic Politics, right, like they are going to talk to YOU about their most intimate details or problems. A lot of married couples don't even talk to each other about it!

  13. Roger DesMoulins says:

    In the USA, the circumcision of women is a felony under Federal law. Hence no need agitate against it.
    The SF referendum (which I did not support) did NOT propose to ban brit milah, only to delay it until after the 18th birthday.
    There is no desire to "ban" Judaism, only a desire to see it evolve.
    The main objective of the North American anticircumcision movement is the maniacal circumcisions performed by gentile doctors on gentile babies. This has no valid medical or public health justification, and can damage adult sexual pleasure and functionality.

  14. Roger DesMoulins says:

    There are also penises that very much desire to be left alone. And there are American women who have slept with both kinds of men and say out loud that they prefer the penis that God designed.

  15. Roger DesMoulins says:

    American hospitals used to ridicule mothers who did not want their sons circumcised. USA gentile popular culture for the past 70 odd years has assumed that the foreskin is a mark of socioeconomic deprivation. Of a deficiency in sexual sophistication. Intact men became a despised sexual minority. This was not right, and led millions of USA parents to accept the circumcisions of their sons. This whole situation reeks of bigotry. No human should ever feel ashamed for being what God intended him to be.

  16. Roger DesMoulins says:

    There are intactivists who are pro-life. Me for instance.
    To circumcise a gentile baby, without a compelling medical reason and without any understanding of the possible adverse sexual consequences, does indeed raise nontrivial human rights issues.

  17. Roger DesMoulins says:

    Dan Silagi : I broadly agree with you. I do believe that ObamaCare will not work, however. And the generosity of Social Security and Medicare will have to be trimmed. Most of all, it is high time that well off Americans and corporations pay at least $350B of additional income tax.

  18. Roger DesMoulins says:

    We deplore Islamic circumcision.

  19. Roger DesMoulins says:

    Arie's Pragmatic Politics : THe Schofield initiative, which I did not support, did not seek to ban brit milah, but only to require that it be done after the 18th birthday.

  20. Arie's Pragmatic Politics says:

    Rob RasCh Then don't circumcise your kids.There are more arguments justifying circumcision then against it. The State is empowered to protect my religious and parental freedoms. It's called the Constitution.

  21. Arie's Pragmatic Politics says:

    Dan Silagi Your angst appears posed against Jews and Judaism in general, not circumcision. If you hate being a Jew so much, you can either convert or declare you are not Jewish. Very simple. Amazing how Jew haters and self-hating Jews migrate to Jewish sites to spew their own hatreds cloaking their comments. "Under the bed, in the closet?" I bet you support jesse "hymie" jackson, al "massacre at freddy's" sharpton, and george "working with the nazis was the happiest time of my life" soros

  22. Arie's Pragmatic Politics says:

    Rob RasCh Typical of people like Rob declaring the COnstitutional Rights are only applicable if you agree with him, his fellow libs, and Jew haters. If you do not like Judaism robbie, convert or declare yourself a non-Jew. Simple as that. Although we all know you believe I should be denied MY freedoms to conform to yours.

  23. Arie's Pragmatic Politics says:

    Rob RasCh You should assert your beliefs and take it to Court. Admit it robbie…your attacks are not against male circumcision, it's against Jews. It's what you are

  24. Arie's Pragmatic Politics says:

    Dan Silagi dannie boy is out of the closet being the demoputz he is. He got caught in his own BS and can't respond intelligently (typical of his ilk) so he curses and attacks. Fact is Antisemitism is on the rise. But then, danny boy went to UC, home the disbarred obamas and cop-killer ayres so his policy and thoughts are not surprising. How about you go sit in the corner danny – adults speaking here and you have no intelligence to provide useful info

  25. Arie's Pragmatic Politics says:

    Dan Silagi It's good that the Jew hating danny boy is out of the closet. Caught in his won BS and like the good demoputz he is comes out with curses and personal attacks. It's all you have. They believe the Constitution refers ONLY to them.

    Yes Michael, Antisemitism is UP in the US. FBI stats prove it! And if you look at obama's inner-circle, we see a plethora of Jew haters! jesse "hymie" jackson, al "massacre at freddy's" sharpton, and george "working with the nazis was the happiest time of my life" soros; the rev wright and his 20 yrs long attack on Jews from his pulpit with obama in the front row.

    But then danny went to UC, home of the disbarred obamas, and cop killer ayres. He learned well at the feet of his masters

  26. Arie's Pragmatic Politics says:

    Mark Daniel McQuillen As I said Mark, you have your choice and if you have sons, carry them out. I had sons and carried out my faith my way. Again, the benefits of the Constitution – although danny boy continues to demand the COnstitution only apply to those that agree with him and his ilk

  27. Arie's Pragmatic Politics says:

    Rob RasCh Then take your parents to Court and charge them. Put the proverbial money where your mouth is. And I presume your angst with the Jewish Community includes your no longer identifying yourself as a Jew. We would hope so given how much you hate Jews

  28. Arie's Pragmatic Politics says:

    The liberals don't like to drill thru the REAL stats of unemployment. To the obamatons the truth is a four-letter word. If one goes to the BLS web site, get away from the home page and drill down thru the stats, the TRUTH shows up: REAL unemployment is close to 16% (including those that have given up and no longer receive unemployment insurance benefits); unemployment amongst Blacks is approx. 20%; underemployment is at 22%! Disability claims have skyrocketed, mainly by those who have lost their unemployment benefits and going to disability to collect.

    "Fuel independence?" Manufacturing in the US is down – less fuel consumed! The foreign cars being bought consume LESS gas, hence less used! The "moribund" car industry he referred to? GM is once again sliding to bankruptcy AFTER the TAXPAYERS paid over $1MILLION per UNION job to keep them afloat. The TAXPAYERS will still lose approx. $30BILLION as we expect GM to come and demand a double dip into our treasury.

    And of course, the recent Democratic Party tax hike on 77% of the US workers, with the working poor affected most (according to the CBO) with the same Democrats now demanding even more. Bottom Line: The economy is collapsing, and as it does the same old "let's blame the Rothschild Jew bank" attitudes surface. Rob and danny are pulling a pre-emptive shield to allege they "are not one of us" so they can be accepted by the Jew haters – much like the Jews of Berlin tried in 1939, just before they were herded to the ovens.

  29. Arie's Pragmatic Politics says:

    "The Jewish Community" but not the "Muslim COmmunity." Interesting how you differentiate. You remind me of the Jews of Berlin 1939, looking to blend to make sure everyone knows you are "not one of us but one of them." Put your money where your moth is rob: sue your parents and "the Jewish Community" for the "grievous harm." And make sure that no one would ever confuse you with a Jew. That is your intent isn't it?

  30. Hugh Intactive says:

    Arie's Pragmatic Politics The state is empowered to protect everybody's freedoms, not just yours, and that includes children, including yours. It already protects them from parents in many cases.

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