August 22, 2012
Attorneys for the Rights of the Child Condemns American Academy of Pediatrics for Hiding the Truth, Putting Doctors Ahead of Patients in its Circumcision StatementBerkeley, CA – The human rights group Attorneys for the Rights of the Child (ARC) has condemned the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) for its upcoming “Circumcision Policy Statement,” due out on August 27, 2012, which ignores and minimizes the truth about male circumcision and places doctors’ interests ahead of patients’ needs. J. Steven Svoboda, ARC’s Executive Director, commented today, “Based on comments that have appeared in the media attributed to members of the task force preparing the statement, the AAP appears to endorse a disproven procedure that violates the infant patient’s rights and removes functional tissue without providing any proven benefit.”
The AAP position statement ignores the wealth of medical evidence that painfully amputating functional tissue from newborns is a dangerous and outmoded practice.”
Not a single study has ever proven that circumcision has actually decreased any disease in the United States. Svoboda observed, “Rather than objectively evaluating all available evidence, the AAP selectively quotes and references highly contested and controversial studies to attempt to justify an entrenched yet outmoded cultural—not medical—practice. Over a hundred boys die each year from this needless procedure, yet the AAP quotes an absurdly low overall complication rate overall and fails to mention the deaths stemming from the practice.”
The AAP released a policy statement in 2010 in Pediatrics defending certain forms of female circumcision if performed for “cultural” reasons. Physicians who had followed the AAP’s suggestion at that time would have thereby violated federal law protecting females from such procedures. After ARC and other organizations opposing genital cutting pointed out the errors, the AAP quickly retracted its statement and replaced it with a new statement calling for the elimination of all forms of female genital cutting. Svoboda commented, “Boys deserve no less protection from the AAP than girls received. If circumcision is so great, why have no European countries adopted it, and why do their males enjoy better average health than Americans?”
The AAP statement demonstrates its ignorance of the fact that European men don’t circumcise and yet enjoy better health outcomes including the areas the statement cites as improved after circumcision. Moreover, medical organizations and politicians in Finland, Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and other countries are calling for the practice to stop. Even in the US, the American Medical Association (AMA) agrees that there is insufficient justification for performing the procedure on newborns absent specific medical indications.
Svoboda noted that studies of adult males in Africa have numerous methodological flaws and that even if valid, given vast differences in health conditions and modes of transmission between the US and Africa, the results can hardly be applied to justify infant male circumcision in the United States. “Babies don’t get HIV and AIDS from sexual contact,” Svoboda added.
“Male circumcision,” Svoboda said, “is a disfigurement that carries risks without providing benefits. It violates a child’s right to bodily integrity, not to mention numerous civil and criminal laws.” Malpractice awards are mounting up including a recent $700,000 settlement reported in the Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly. Svoboda noted, “Although the AAP’s statement regarding male circumcision is presumably influenced by its desire to protect its members who perform the outmoded procedure, the AAP has no business promoting a harmful and discredited cultural relic masquerading as a medical procedure. 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.”
Americans are getting the message, as according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), rates have dropped substantially in recent years.
Attorneys for the Rights of the Child is a non-profit organization founded in 1997 to protect children from unnecessary medical procedures to which they do not consent.