AMERICAN MEDICAL NEWS, December 2, 1996, Page 20.


    Opposes circumcision for males, too

    Regarding the article "Dangerous, deadly, scarring," on
female circumcision (AMNews, Oct. 28):

    We invite physicians, particularly obstetrician-
gynecologists, to be introspective about Dr. John C.
Nelson's statement, "We ... cannot allow females or any
other group of patients to be mutilated."

    It is inherently mutilative when obstetrician-
gynecologists excise the healthy, functional prepuce from a
male newborn who cannot consent to this genital cutting.

    Well-intending adults may believe that it is in the
child's best interests to perform the circumcision, but
intellectually honest physicians know that the alleged
medical indications for routine infant circumcision are weak
at best, and that many parents are motivated by irrational
social fears or customs.

    What circumcising unconsenting male and female children
share in common is not severity, but sovereignty.  Every
man, woman and child has inherent human rights to physical
integrity and self determination.

                                               TIM HAMMOND
                   National Organization to Heal the Abuse
                           and Routine Mutilation of Males

Symbolic incision a possible
alternative to mutilating
female circumcision

    I am opposed to female genital mutilation.  I am opposed
to any form of mutilation of humans, animals, plants, art,
etc.  However, I heal with a large population of East
African immigrants each day and I think we need to recognize
our ethnocentric tendencies.

    Female circumcision has been in these peoples' culture
for generations.  As physicians, we need to be careful and
specific with the terms we use in the diagnosis and
management of different conditions.

    When counseled against the procedure, some East Africans
wonder why we allow the practice of male genital mutilation,
which we call simply circumcision.

    We are working with the East African community in our
area to educate them about the problems and complications of
infibulation and other types of female circumcisions.

    In addition, we have proposed allowing a symbolic
incision in the prepuce of the clitoris, which would not
remove any tissue and which would not cause the problems
associated with the more radical procedures.

    The solution to the problem is increased involvement in
the communities in order to educate and gain trust.  A
simple law against years of tradition will only push people
to do it underground in unsterile conditions, possibly
creating more problems than it solves.

                                        NEIL KANESHIRO, MD

(Transcribed 2 December 1996)

(File revised 22 November 2003)