Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:

Head To Head

Is infant male circumcision an abuse of the rights of the child? Yes

BMJ 2007; 335 doi: (Published 06 December 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;335:1180

Rapid Response:

Male circumcision is cosmetic surgery.

Male cirumcision, if not performed for medical reasons, is a cosmetic
procedure and is unnessecary. Parents can consent to medical and surgical
procedures to be preformed on their child only when there is a medical
necessity, in other words, when the child will benefit from it from a
health perspective. Parents can not have their child undergo unnecessary
medical or surgical treatment. Hence, parents can not have their child
undergo circumcision. Just imagine what an outrage it would cause if one
would present at a hospital to schedule a face-lift for his 7 year old
daughter; or breast augmentation for his 14 year old; or calf implants for
his 10 year old son? These examples may seem completely ridiculous, but
are in principle identical to male circumcision. The reasoning is quite
simple. The only argument that can be made for male circumcision is that
religious people usually do not follow legal and moral principles if they
don't suit them well and will resort to non-medically schooled personell
to perform the procedure under unhygienic conditions. This, however,
should not be a reason to allow male cicumcision.

Competing interests:
None declared

Competing interests: No competing interests

10 December 2007
Andras Heijink
Orthopedic Surgery resident
Mayo Clinic Rochester, USA