Circumcision Would Violate Toddler's Rights
To the Editor:
Your coverage of the Nebus vs. Hironimus case is unfortunately skewed. Missing from it are the facts that the mother has expressed fear of death related to the necessary use of general anesthesia for a circumcision at that age, a fear that is not unfounded given cases such as the one of Jamaal Coleson from Brooklyn, a toddler who died days after his circumcision in 2011 as a consequence of the anesthesia.
At 3 1/2 years, the child will remember the procedure. This case highlights the necessity to understand bodily autonomy; who "owns" the body of a 3 1/2-year-old child, who can make decisions to amputate sexual tissue without medical necessity? Shouldn't the child have a say on an irreversible "elective"procedure over his own genitalia? Shouldn't the court consider the best interest of the child over any other consideration?
International tendencies consider non-therapeutic circumcision of children a violation of the child's right to physical integrity, with some European countries considering age-restricting the procedure.
Many American adult males regret being circumcised during childhood, with many currently attempting a slow process of non-surgical foreskin restoration to reverse some of the damage.
A new study published by JAMA Pediatrics indicates that the risks of circumcision increase up to 20 times after the first year of life. Some of those risks can be catastrophic, such as the ablation of the penis; just last week news reported the case of Mike Moore from Mississippi, now 30 years old, who had his penis reconstructed as an adult after losing it during his circumcision at 7 years of age.
The American Cancer Society does not consider circumcision an effective measure to prevent penile cancer, which itself is rare in both circumcised and uncircumcised males.
Circumcision has been promoted by the World Health Organization as PART of a comprehensive HIV prevention package under specific conditions (heterosexual epidemic, low circumcision prevalence) which are not met in the United States. A 2007 report of the CDC showed that circumcision has not shown a protective effect in the United States, where thousands of circumcised males have contracted HIV.
We are following the development of this case, as it is in the first place, a case about the human rights of Chase, a 3 1/2-year-old American citizen, who should be entitled to be free and safe and equally protected under the law, a law that currently protects female minors but fails to protect male minors from unwanted and unnecessary genital surgeries.
An online petition has collected over 2,100 signatures in 3 days to protect this child from an unnecessary and potentially dangerous circumcision.
Juan A. Alzate