Neonatal Circumcision: A Benefit to Health? Or Accepted Mutilation?
The procedure of circumcision has been around for thousands of years, indeed the earliest known Egyptian mummies-who lived around 1300 B.C-were circumcised, and there are documented engravings and pictures that show it was commonplace even before that (Dunsmuir et al, 1999). In modern times however, circumcision is still common in many countries, even in countries where there is no religious belief that requires it. It is often carried out shortly after birth with the mother and father being the ones who ultimately give consent for the surgeon to carry out the procedure. This has led to the discussion of the ethics of neonatal circumcision and whether it is immoral to make this decision for the child.
There is often argument concerning the benefits of circumcision, with points for and against both littered with misinformation and assumptions. Often the first statement that is made in such arguments against circumcision is that the procedure results in a loss of sensation in the patient and can lead to a less fulfilling sex life in later years. However from a utilitarian standpoint, this cannot be the case. Recent studies have shown that there are no recorded differences in sensitivity between circumcised and uncircumcised males (Payne et al, 2007), and there is no significant evidence to suggest problems with sex later in life can be attributed to circumcision. Another such argument from a teleological point of view is that there are no advantages to general health that can be acquired from having this procedure. But in fact recent studies have also shown that overall, being circumcised is beneficial to a man’s health throughout life and in later years. One such study showed that in later years the risk of penile cancer in uncircumcised males was 3.2 times that of males that had been given a neonatal circumcision procedure (Maden et al. 1993). Also it has been shown that uncircumcised...
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