Should Circumcision Be Mandatory?
Possible CDC recommendation in favor of circumcision fuels flames in an always heated parenting debate.
-Julie Ryan Evans
Wanna stir up some heated debate in a room full of mothers? Just mention the word “circumcision,” then stand back and watch the room sizzle. Issues involving religion, sexuality, mutilation, torture – all pack this debate with a polarizing punch.
Now adding even more fuel to the flames is news that the CDC may issue recommendations that all infant boys be circumcised to help prevent the spread of HIV. The potential move – expected to be announced by the end of the year – is based on evidence in Africa that circumcision can lower the rate of HIV by as much as 50 percent in heterosexual males.
“What we’ve heard from our consultants is that there would be a benefit for infants from infant circumcision, and that the benefits outweigh the risks,” Dr. Peter Kilmarx, chief epidemiologist for the CDC HIV/AIDS Division, told the New York Times.
There’s lots of debate over the studies being considered by the CDC, how high the prevention rates are and more. But if there is evidence that circumcision could in some way – no matter how small – prevent your son from getting HIV someday, why wouldn’t you do it?
Plenty of moms will give you plenty of reasons why not.
Among them is Melissa Barger Baern, mother of twin boys, who takes great issue with the potential guidelines. “I simply do not understand the American attachment to circumcision, which the CDC seems to have fallen into,” she says. “I am not a particularly crunchy-granola kind of mom. I’m pretty strongly pro-western medicine, generally. But the idea that human boys are born with a body part that must be immediately removed is nonsensical.”
Even if it could prevent HIV? “I’m confident that my two intact boys can learn to avoid HIV by behavioral practices,” Baern answers.