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The AAP issued its last circumcision guidelines in 1999. Those guidelines stated that although circumcision has some medical benefits, they are not sufficient to warrant routine circumcision.
The new guidelines was released on Aug. 27. The new guidelines make clear that the health benefits of the procedure outweigh the risks, while stopping short of recommending routine circumcision. It also warns of the danger of metzitza b’peh, a controversial rite involving sucking of blood during circumcision.
All this would come as a shock to northern European nations that have spent the summer wrestling with whether to allow nonmedical circumcision.
A botched circumcision of a 4-year-old Muslim boy in Cologne, Germany, earlier this year set off a debate among health officials, politicians and commentators in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Denmark and Norway about the ethics of what many see as an unnecessary procedure.
In Denmark, the debate centered on the tension between religious freedom to circumcise and the child’s right to bodily integrity. Opponents of circumcision said that it violated the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
“Other countries are discussing whether [circumcision] should be banned as a crime,” said Georganne Chapin, executive director of the anti-circumcision group Intact America. “We’re not talking about the rights of the babies, and we’re completely ignoring the protective benefits and the sensual benefits of the foreskin.”
Besides, Chapin said, if circumcision prevents a range of diseases, surely states in America that have low circumcision rates would have “very high rates of these dread conditions.”
A spokesman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declined to comment generally about the link between circumcision and disease.