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Informed Choice: Professional Policy Statements

To make an informed choice, parents of all male infants should be given accurate and unbiased information. —AAP Circumcision Policy Statement (1999)

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. —Pediatric and Child Health Care Division, Royal Australasian College of Physicians

Other Comments

Despite this policy statement, few doctors inform parents of what is actually done to a baby when he is circumcised, and parents remain unaware of the realities of the procedure, the pain inflicted, and the potential complications and repercussions. Most parents who have witnessed a circumcision, or seen a video of one, have been shocked:

It's absolutely horrible. I didn't know how horrific it was going to be. It was the most gruesome thing I have ever seen in my life. I told the doctor as soon as he was done, if I had had a gun I would have killed him. —M. Morrison

Observing their son's pain leaves many with deep feelings of regret:

His screams tore at my heart... Too late... I knew that this was a terrible mistake and that it was something no one... should ever have to endure... my body feeling nauseatingly sick with guilt and shame. All I could think of was holding and consoling my child, but his pain felt inconsolable—his body rigid with fear and anger—his eyes filled with tears of betrayal. —B. Raisbeck

A big issue for many parents, fathers especially, is that of their baby looking like his dad.

...circumcising a baby cannot make him look like his circumcised father, nor does it create a "bond" between father and son. Bonds are created by the expression of love rather than by cutting the penis... .

What if the father were missing a finger? Would it be right to amputate a finger from the baby so that he matches his father? —Paul M. Fleiss, MD, and Frederick M. Hodges, DPhil

Surely none of us would say it reasonable to perpetuate any form of bodily mutilation—be it foot binding, excising the clitoris, or circumcision—simply on the basis of emotions or peer pressure. Just as boys do not need to be circumcised because their father was, they don't need be circumcised just because their neighbor or even their parents' best friend's baby has been. With the current decline in US circumcision rates, this excuse is less valid than ever. The chances are approaching 50-50 that the boy next door is intact, and locker rooms are reflecting that fact.

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