They now say that the probabilistic health benefits conferred by the procedure just slightly outweigh the known risks and harms. Not enough to come right out and positively recommend circumcision (as some media outlets are erroneously reporting), but just enough to suggest that whenever it is performed—for cultural or religious reasons, or sheer parental preference, as the case may be—it should be covered by government health insurance.
That turns out to be a very fine line to dance on. But fear not: the AAP policy committee comes equipped with tap shoes tightly-laced, and its self-appointed members have shown themselves to be hoofers of the nimblest kind. Their position statement is full of equivocations, hedging, and uncertainty; and the longer report upon which it is based is replete with non-sequiturs, self-contradiction, and blatant cherry-picking of essential evidence. Both documents shine as clear examples of a “lowest common denominator” mélange birthed by a divided committee, some of whose members must be well aware that United States is embarrassingly out of tune with world opinion on this issue.
Child health experts in Britain, Germany, Scandinavia, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada say there is no meaningful benefit and it shouldn’t be recommended. Seems fair. There is no meaningful benefit, so don’t snip off a bit of the penis. Err on the side of not snipping off, because no meaningful benefit.
In view of this empirical uncertainty on the medical question, it is problematic to assert, as the AAP does in its new report, that a person does not retain the right to decide whether he wishes to keep his own healthy foreskin–and preserve his genitals in their natural form–and that the right belongs instead to his parents.
Which is odd, because they have their own genitals. Why don’t they alter their own if they want to alter? Why is it always vicarious?
A more reasonable conclusion than the AAP’s, then, is that the person whose penis it is should be allowed to consider, for himself, the available evidence (in all its chaotic murkiness) when he is mentally competent to do so—and make a personal decision about what is, after all, a functional bit of his own sexual anatomy and one enjoyed without issue by the vast majority of the world’s males.
Ah but liberals. Choice. Secularism. Community. Just ask Giles Fraser.