The Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) has released their updated 2010 Circumcision Position Statement. After comprehensive analysis, noting potential benefits and risks, the RACP summarizes the following:
“After reviewing the currently available evidence, the RACP believes that the frequency of diseases modifiable by circumcision, the level of protection offered by circumcision and the complication rates of circumcision do not warrant routine infant circumcision in Australia and New Zealand. “
The report states , medically sanctioned circumcision of male infants and boys arose in Britain and the United States in the late nineteenth century, initially for control of masturbation, with a range of benefits proposed for the procedure.”
The report discusses circumcision and HIV prevention, in which it states,” A population survey conducted in South Africa however failed to show benefit of circumcision in prevention of acquisition of HIV. In addition there has been recent criticism of early cessation of clinical trials because of clear therapeutic benefit because of the tendency for this practice to over-emphasize benefit.”
Also, a Ugandan study showed that adult male circumcision did not reduce the acquisition of HIV by the female sexual partners of HIV infected, circumcised men, and suggested an increased risk of HIV acquisition in these women.”
In summary about the protective benefits, the report states, in low prevalence populations such as Australia and New Zealand circumcision does not provide significant protection against STIs and HIV, and is less effective than safe sex practices. Circumcision decreases the risk of penile cancer probably by preventing phimosis. Circumcision may offer protection against development of cervical cancer in high risk populations, but is overshadowed as a protective measure by HPV vaccines. Circumcision has not been demonstrated to decrease the risks of prostate cancer.”
Also noted are countries where circumcision has been banned, routine neonatal circumcision has been declared unlawful in South Africa, Sweden (except on religious grounds) and Finland.”
With regards the the ethics of infant circumcision, the report states, “Informed parental consent should include the possibility that the ethical principle of autonomy may be better fulfilled by deferring the circumcision to adolescence with the young man consenting on his own behalf.
With regards to parental rights to consent to infant circumcision, Intaction.org must disagree with this section of the RACP’s statement. They said. “Children may grow up to disagree with decisions that parents have made for them when they were young. This cannot always be prevented or avoided. Some decisions have to be made at the time. The later disagreement of the child does not show that the parents’ decision at the time was unethical or wrong. Parents and doctors have to decide the basis of their own evaluations of benefits and burdens, being aware that they are making predictions and that nothing is guaranteed.”
In this conflicting section, the RACP seeming attempts to take the position of an apologist. Since non-therapeutic cosmetic infant circumcision can be deferred until the individual is an adult, there is no need for parents or doctors to guess what a child wishes may be. The decision can wait.
The entire position statement can be viewed at the following link: