CONTENT WARNING: Graphic images may NOT be suitable for all viewers
Circumcision: Risks and Benefits
by: Dr. Franklin Lowe (Columbia University) // length: 02.09
This video also offers a short look at the issue of circumcision from an unbiased perspective. It attempts to give both the risks and benefits of some of the issues surrounding the topic. Illustrated with charts and photos, it covers a lot of ground in a short period of time. Still, it offers an introduction to circumcision without making a big case against circumcision or promoting it.
One of the most difficult issues about this question of circumcision is the ethics of who gets to make the decision: Is it the parents responsibility to make the decision? (And therefore, is it also their right to make the decision?) Or is it their son’s right to make the decision, of course, when he is old enough to make it? And then, when he is old enough to make the decision — as a teenager? as an adult?
Recently the University of Oxford focused on this exact issue, asking doctors, medical ethicists and other professionals to weigh in on the decision.
The Ethics of Male Circumcision
A few ritual circumcisers persist in the practice of using oral techniques during a circumcision, despite efforts to discontinue the practice through licensing and education. In April 2013, two more babies acquired herpes due to the practice.
Links to the Story:
Babies’ herpes linked to circumcision practice (CNN Health)
NY newborn contracts herpes from circumciser (The Times of Isreal)
To read more about herpes:
Genital Herpes (The New York Times)
A new study, done in Africa, where HIV/AIDS is predominantly spread through heterosexual sex, suggests that circumcision can cut a male’s risk of acquiring HIV/AIDS. The findings were that removing the foreskin removes a host for the HIV to enter the body. In addition, the removal of these cells may provide an indirect boost to the immune system. Note, however, that while the study is getting a lot of publicity, and even optimism about the further benefits of circumcision, it is only preliminary, and does not yet belong in the category of conclusive findings.
For a general overview of the study, read:
the Los Angeles Times
The study appeared in April 2013 Journal of Microbiology, which publishes, where the study and its results can be found at:
An interesting discussion of the ethics involved can be read at:
Mayor Michael Bloomberg started a campaign to make ritual circumcision safer. His main objective was to stop the ancient practice of metzitzah b’peh, which is when oral suction is used to stop bleeding during a circumcision. Most moyels no longer practice metzitzah or, if they do, use a glass tube rather than direct contact with the infant.
Since the year 2000, 12 infants in New York have suffered infections from the practice. Two of those died and 2 suffered brain damage. For this reason, in September of 2012, the New York Department of Health started requiring moyels who wanted to continue the practice to ask the parents of the infant to sign a form notifying them of the practice and asking for their consent. Legality of the form is being contested by lawyers representing those moyels who practice metzizah, their defense based on freedom of the religion as guaranteed by the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
The New York Times
Board Votes to Regulate Circumcision, Citing Risks
NYC Health (PDF)
New case of neonatal herpes infection following ritual Jewish circumcision; new regulations for providers and labs
Court Upholds NYC Rule Requiring Consent for Metzitzah B’peh Rite