Even as the circumcision rate for newborn baby boys in the United States reaches its lowest level in decades, the American Academy of Pediatrics reported Monday that the health benefits of circumcision outweigh, or are at least equal to the risks.
A review of medical literature published Monday in the journal "Pediatrics" finds that circumcision may protect heterosexual men against HIV infection. The policy shift comes as circumcision becomes a charged political topic, following a German court ruling in June that circumcision is illegal. Jewish groups are asking the German government to pass legislation that protects the practice.
Critics are deriding the policy shift for a number of medical and ethical reasons, including citing the relatively small body of HIV studies on African men that indicate a preventative benefit from circumcision.
The academy's position does not endorse circumcision, but suggests that it should be an option available to parents, according to an article in the New York Times. It’s the first time that the influential medical group has updated its circumcision policy since 1999. The academy said that medical insurers should cover the procedure and that cost should not be a barrier. According to the Seattle Times, Washington Medicaid spokesman Jim Stevenson said coverage decisions are based on scientific research, and the new AAP study likely would be reviewed with other findings.
Circumcision rates range widely across the U.S., with the West having the lowest rate as a region as of 2009, and Washington state the second-lowest rate of circumcision, at 15 percent, according to federal data reported by The Jewish Daily Forward (see the chart on page 4).
What's your opinion on this subject? Should circumcision should be banned, or should parents be allowed to have the choice, as the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests?