J Med Ethics doi:10.1136/medethics-2013-101346
  • Law, ethics and medicine
  • Paper

Out of step: fatal flaws in the latest AAP policy report on neonatal circumcision

  1. Robert S Van Howe2
  1. 1Attorneys for the Rights of the Child, Berkeley, California, USA
  2. 2Department of Pediatrics and Human Development, Michigan State University College of Human Medicine, Marquette, Michigan, USA
  1. Correspondence to J Steven Svoboda, Attorneys for the Rights of the Child, 2961 Ashby Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94707, USA; arc{at}
  • Received 14 January 2013
  • Revised 18 February 2013
  • Accepted 19 February 2013
  • Published Online First 18 March 2013


The American Academy of Pediatrics recently released a policy statement and technical report on circumcision, in both of which the organisation suggests that the health benefits conferred by the surgical removal of the foreskin in infancy definitively outweigh the risks and complications associated with the procedure. While these new documents do not positively recommend neonatal circumcision, they do paradoxically conclude that its purported benefits ‘justify access to this procedure for families who choose it,’ claiming that whenever and for whatever reason it is performed, it should be covered by government health insurance. The policy statement and technical report suffer from several troubling deficiencies, ultimately undermining their credibility. These deficiencies include the exclusion of important topics and discussions, an incomplete and apparently partisan excursion through the medical literature, improper analysis of the available information, poorly documented and often inaccurate presentation of relevant findings, and conclusions that are not supported by the evidence given.

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