Today, the AAP officially declared that “there are clear medical benefits to circumcision,” citing many of the previously debunked studies popular with those who promote the procedure. It comes as a major setback to those who’d been happy to see rates of infant circumcision drop from 80% in the 1980s to a nationwide low of 54.7% in 2010.
Now questions will be raised regarding what effect this recommendation will have – not just on the difficult choice parents have to make when they have children, but also on who picks up the tab for performing circumcision. Infant circumcision is a billion dollar business in America; and pro-circumcision lobbyists were frustrated that more and more states were dropping coverage of infant circumcision from Medicaid.
Marty Ellington, chairman of the Department of Pediatrics at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, issued a statement in which he hoped that “the trend towards state Medicaid programs not covering circumcision will be reversed,” which those amongst the anti-circumcision lobby believe reveals where the real motivation for the AAP’s ruling stems from.
After all, circumcision is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to hospitals each year, adding a neat little boost to their bottom line each time an infant is snipped. This is a good reason why hospitals might recommend the procedure, and why doctors are frustrated that the taxpayer isn’t picking up the tab When parents have to pay for the procedure out-of-pocket, many of them choose not to.
In addition, companies who make the Mogen Clamp, Plastibell and Gomco clamp (the three tools most commonly used to perform circumcision) might have an interest promoting the “health benefits” of circumcision in order to keep their sales flowing.
There’s simply so much money involved in promoting circumcision that the ruling itself is being seen as dubious by a great many people – especially since it flies in the face of another AAP standard:
On their website, the American Academy of Pediatrics attacks the barbaric practice of Female Genital Mutilation by declaring they oppose “any medically unnecessary procedure that alters the genitalia of female infants, girls, and adolescents.”
But what is male infant circumcision if not exactly that? Why is one form of “genital alteration” acceptable, but another not? Doesn’t the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution promise “equal protection under the law”? Apparently not if you’re a boy.
Other criticisms of this ruling include trashing the supposed “health benefits” of circumcision; including the dubious claim that it reduces risk of HIV transmission. Compare HIV rates in Europe (where circumcision is rare) to America (where it is common) and you’ll see circumcision does NOTHING to protect against infection. In fact, American rates of HIV infection are GREATER than in Europe, South America and most of Asia – all places where circumcision is NOT routinely practiced.
“Based on comparisons between the US and Europe, you will not find any sources, studies or numbers that show that circumcision is beneficial,” wrote one opponent of circumcision on Yahoo! “I don't think any studies have been done comparing the two regions, because most of the folks these doing studies want to prove that circumcision is beneficial, and they know that the numbers prove the opposite.”
What do you think about the American Academy of Pediatrics’ ruling? Fair and balanced? Or an example of how corrupt our health care system has become?