A new recommendation from the CDC falls short of endorsing circumcision for all newborns, but does say the benefits of the procedure outweigh the risks. The procedure has been shown to reduce the risk of sexually transmitted diseases, with little to no loss in sexual pleasure. According to the new guidelines, parents of newborn children as well as teenagers and adults with intact foreskin, are encouraged to have a discussion with a doctor about the operation.
The American Academy of Pediatrics, in 2012, issued a similar statement and called on health insurers to cover circumcision.
While most newborns are circumcised in the United States, the rate has declined in the last 50 years from 83% in the 1960s to 77% in 2010. Some in Europe have fought to ban the practice entirely on the grounds that it constitutes genital mutilation and the child cannot consent. In 2011, a ballot proposal in San Francisco attempted to legislate against newborn circumcision, although a judge later ordered it be removed from the ballot. A Twitter hashtag “#i2,” representing “intact,” is now being used to lash out against the CDC report.
Although the benefits of the procedure are known, it is difficult to imagine teenagers and adults flocking to doctors. The CDC report cited a consumer study that found only 10% of heterosexual uncircumcised adult men, even after being informed of the health benefits, said they were “likely” or “very likely” to undergo circumcision. More than 80% said they were “unlikely” or “very unlikely” to undergo the procedure.
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Related: To Cut or Not To Cut: Finding Alternatives to Circumcision
Zack Schrieber is an intern at Tablet Magazine. Follow him on Twitter @zschrieber.