Thanks to the Post-Gazette for an informative article about the circumcision tragedy in Squirrel Hill (“Religious Circumcisions Not Subject to Pa. Oversight,” Jan. 26). It covered the declining rate of infant circumcision, ethical concerns about the procedure and the growing movement in Europe to protect the genital autonomy of children. These historic developments reflect a growing awareness about the impact of circumcision. A child has a fundamental right to his healthy, functional body parts.
In contrast to the unfair characterizations included in the article from Rabbi Romi Cohn of New York City and Gregg Roman from the Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Pittsburgh, genital integrity activists (intactivists) are motivated by children’s rights and religious freedom. We are not “anti-religion” — we are pro-child. Since an infant is incapable of having religious beliefs, he should be free to make choices as he becomes an adult. He may not follow the faith of his parents. A religious education can be changed; body alteration cannot. A new trend is emerging called “Brit Shalom,” a naming ceremony without cutting and its inherent risks.
The Post-Gazette article mentioned the policy statement by the American Academy of Pediatrics. However, a recent paper published in the journal Pediatrics faulted this statement for its cultural bias. It is difficult for people raised in a circumcising culture to question the practice, but positive change can happen when people seek out unbiased information.
Just as China abandoned centuries of foot-binding young girls, Americans can discard the harmful practice of infant circumcision.