|Medical authorities maintain opposition to circ|
Statements by Australian medical authoritiesSince the early 1970s Australian medical authorities have consistently urged that male infants and boys should NOT be circumcised.
The most recent and authoritative statement was issued by the Royal Australasian College of Physicians in August 2009. This document states clearly:
“the RACP does not recommend that routine circumcision in infancy be performed.”
The full outline statement follows.
CURRENT COLLEGE POSITION on CIRCUMCISION
The Paediatrics & Child Health Division, The Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) has prepared this statement on routine circumcision of newborn and infant boys for doctors who are asked to advise on or undertake the procedure and to assist parents who are considering having this procedure undertaken on their male children.
Circumcision of males has been undertaken for religious and cultural reasons for many thousands of years and it remains an important ritual in some religious and cultural groups. In Australia and New Zealand, the circumcision rate has fallen considerably in recent years and it is estimated that currently around 10-15% of newborn male infants are routinely circumcised.
Circumcision is now generally performed with local or general anaesthesia, and when the procedure is undertaken for a medical indication this is usually outside of the neonatal period.
When considering routine infant circumcision, ethical concerns have focused on recognition of the functional role of the foreskin, the non-therapeutic nature of the operation, and the psychological distress felt by some adult males circumcised as infants. The possibility that routine circumcision contravenes human rights has been raised because circumcision is performed on a minor for non-clinical reasons, and is potentially without net clinical benefit for the child.
Recently there has been renewed debate regarding both the possible health benefits and the ethical concerns relating to routine male circumcision. The most important conditions where some benefit may result from circumcision are urinary tract infections, and in adults HIV infection and cancer of the penis. The frequency of these conditions, the level of protection offered by circumcision and complication rate of circumcision do not warrant a recommendation of universal circumcision for newborn and infant males in an Australian and New Zealand context.
After extensive review of the literature the RACP does not recommend that routine circumcision in infancy be performed, but accepts that parents should be able to make this decision with their doctors. One reasonable option is for routine circumcision to be delayed until males are old enough to make an informed choice. In all cases where parents request a circumcision for their child the medical attendant is obliged to provide accurate information on the risks and benefits of the procedure. Up-to-date, unbiased written material summarising the evidence should be widely available to parents. In the absence of evidence of substantial harm, parental choice should be respected.
If the operation is to be performed, the medical attendant should ensure this is done by a competent surgeon, using appropriate anaesthesia and in a safe child-friendly environment.
27 August 2009
The policy statement represents the consensus position of the Australasian Association of Paediatric Surgeons, the New Zealand Society of Paediatric Surgeons, the Urological Society of Australasia, the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons and the Paediatric Society of New Zealand.
The Australian Pediatric Association recommends that newborn male infants should not, as a routine, be circumcised.