Monday, March 18, 2013

BERKELEY: AAP circumcision policy rebutted in Journal of Medical Ethics

the Journal of Medical Ethics
March, 2013

Lawyer and pediatrician dismantle the AAP policy

An article in the Journal of Medical Ethics comprehensively takes down the American Academy of Pediatrics' 2012 circumcision policy.

Written by Michigan State University Clinical Professor Robert Van Howe and Berkeley lawyer J Steven Svoboda, it focuses on the ethical issues rather than the medical issues that concern the European pediatricians whose rebuttal is released today.

“The AAP ignores so many important topics that it is hard to know where to begin," Svoboda says. "For example, the anatomy and function of the foreskin are not mentioned. 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.”

“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.”

Van Howe and Svoboda accuse the AAP of cherry-picking articles that support circumcision, and of taking passages out of context from within articles that do not support it.

They conclude that male circumcision should be neither recommended to parents nor funded by government insurance systems.

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.
Out of step: fatal flaws in the latest AAP policy report on neonatal circumcision
by J Steven Svoboda, Attorneys for the Rights of the Child, Berkeley, California, USA
Robert S Van Howe, Department of Pediatrics and Human Development, Michigan State University College of Human Medicine, Marquette, Michigan
The American Academy of Pediatrics recently released a policy statement and technical report on circumcision, in both of which the organisation suggests that the health benefits conferred by the surgical removal of the foreskin in infancy definitively outweigh the risks and complications associated with the procedure. While these new documents do not positively recommend neonatal circumcision, they do paradoxically conclude that its purported benefits ‘justify access to this procedure for families who choose it,’ claiming that whenever and for whatever reason it is performed, it should be covered by government health insurance. The policy statement and technical report suffer from several troubling deficiencies, ultimately undermining their credibility. These deficiencies include the exclusion of important topics and discussions, an incomplete and apparently partisan excursion through the medical literature, improper analysis of the available information, poorly documented and often inaccurate presentation of relevant findings, and conclusions that are not supported by the evidence given.

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