DOC-ARC Letter to the American Academy of Pediatrics
Doctors Opposing Circumcision
2442 NW Market St. Suite 42
Seattle WA 98107
Attorneys for the Rights of the Child
2961 Ashby Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94705
October 14, 1998
Carol Lannon, MD; The AAP Task Force on Circumcision; Dr Joe Sanders and
the AAP Board
PO Box 927
Elk Grove Village, IL 60009
Dear Dr. Lannon, Dr. Sanders, Task Force and Board Members,
We are writing to apprise you of the seriousness of the AAP's Task
Force on Circumcision's and your actions if you issue a policy statement
that, in any way, endorses partial penile amputation circumcision or
forced prepuce retraction, with or without anesthesia. Contemporary
national and international research, ethics and logic, history, as well as
the lack of endorsement by any national medical associations worldwide show us that prophylactic circumcision is unnecessary as well as harmful.
If you issue a policy statement which approves or condones an unnecessary
procedure which is known to cause serious injury and death, you, the Task
Force and the AAP could be held legally accountable.
Pediatricians who perform this procedure cannot abdicate their legal
responsibilities by saying the parents "requested" their son be
circumcised or even "consented" to it. If a parent wants a doctor to
amputate a childs' body part, the physician must make an independent
assessment and decision about the value of such a procedure. If an
irreversible procedure has no clear medical justification, the physician
must refuse to fulfill the parents' request. Only the person affected can
consent to damaging cosmetic procedures, and with infant circumcision this
is clearly not possible.
The AAP, of course, has a responsibility to protect its members from
lawsuits and criminal action. A solution to this dilemma has been
suggested to the AMA by one of our members. The AAP could join with the AMA to lobby Congress to pass a law prohibiting Male Genital Mutilation, as they have already done with Female Genital Mutilation (S.1030 in effect April 1997).
This would solve the critical problem that male minors would receive the
same protections afforded their sisters guaranteed by the provisions of
the 5th, 14th and 19th Amendments to the United States Constitution which
provide equal protection and prohibit sex discrimination. Those who
performed circumcisions prior to the effective date of the law would be
protected from prosecution under Federal Law.
In the meantime, the AAP and its Task Force on Circumcision can seriously
consider a moratorium on medically non indicated circumcision to coincide
with the Task Force's release of its policy statement on circumcision.
Please understand that Doctors Opposing Circumcision, and Attorneys for
the Rights of the Child, as non profit organizations, view ourselves as fulfilling one of the most important civic duties available to American
citizens. By providing this information, we are fulfilling our
responsibility to the Task Force, the AAP and the physicians they
represent as well as our responsibility to protect the babies, all of whom
are adversely affected by circumcision.
George C Denniston MD MPH, President, D.O.C.
J. Steven Svoboda Esq, Director, ARC