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Human and Ethical Issues Surrounding Circumcision

In the advent of a wide range of different surgeries, the circumcision firmly holds the leading positions among them and remains one of the most common procedures in the world. Male circumcision has a long history: the procedure first occurred thousands of years ago and is still performed in many countries (Cox & Morris, 2012). Despite its wide popularity, this surgery seems to be one of the most controversial. It is usually associated with ethical (circumcision of children without their consent) and human (deprivation of rights based on religious and personal aspects) problems, making people ask themselves whether circumcision should be treated as a medical right or a human rights issue.

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Circumcision is often discussed from the point of human issues. It is not prohibited in the majority of countries. However, in 2012 it has been proclaimed illegal in Germany, uniting Jews and Muslims in their disbelief and anger (Evans, 2012). Since such bans usually refer to the newborn circumcision, parents find themselves unable to allow doctors to circumcise their children. In other words, people are deprived of their religious or personal rights, which is likely to be a human issue.

At the same time, the circumcision is widely discussed in terms of ethical problem. While the adult circumcision is not such a controversial procedure, the newborn circumcision seems to be the one. Activists claim that newly-born children should not be the subjects of the operation for non-therapeutic reasons because they are not able to decide for themselves. American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests that “elective circumcision should be performed only if the infant’s condition is stable and healthy,” and parents should be completely aware of the possible benefits and risks of the procedure (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2012, p. 757). This is an example of the ethical issue of the circumcision procedure.

The main question arising in the course of the continuous discussions is whether circumcision is a medical right or a human rights issue. As for the medical side of the problem, one should know that AAP has recently published a Circumcision Policy Statement, where it stated that “preventive health benefits of elective circumcision of male newborns outweigh the risks of the procedure” (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2012, p. 585). To the benefits list experts usually include prevention of diseases: urinary infections, sexually transmitted infections, penile cancer and so on. This evidence seems to be enough to refer the circumcision to a medical right issue.

Nevertheless, the procedure can also be referred to as a human rights issue. The statistics results show that “complications are infrequent; most are minor, and severe complications are rare” (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2012, p. 585). However, this very statement also indicates that complications are possible. Consequently, by depriving children of the possibility to decide whether they want this operation, parents deprive their children of their human rights. This fact proves that circumcision is also a human rights issue.

As for me, I believe that such a debatable issue as the circumcision cannot and should not be referred to as a medical right or human rights issue solely. It is the point where one should find the balance and take into account many factors at the same time: medical indications, religious and personal aspects, and so on.

References

American Academy of Pediatrics. (2012). Circumcision policy statement. Pediatrics, 130(3), 585-586.

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American Academy of Pediatrics. (2012). Male circumcision. Pediatrics, 130(3), 756-785.

Cox, G., & Morris, B. J. (2012). Why circumcision: from prehistory to the twenty-first century. Surgical Guide To Circumcision, 243-259.

Evans, S. (2012) German circumcision ban: Is it a parent’s right to choose? Web.

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StudyCorgi. "Human and Ethical Issues Surrounding Circumcision." January 12, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/human-and-ethical-issues-surrounding-circumcision-essay/.

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StudyCorgi. 2022. "Human and Ethical Issues Surrounding Circumcision." January 12, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/human-and-ethical-issues-surrounding-circumcision-essay/.

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StudyCorgi. (2022) 'Human and Ethical Issues Surrounding Circumcision'. 12 January.

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