ARIZONA STAR, Tucson, Arizona,
Saturday, 18 May 2002.

Circumcision payments denied as Senate seeks to save $400K

By Howard Fischer

PHOENIX - Saying no cut is too small to balance the budget, the state Senate refused Friday to pay for circumcision of baby boys born to poor women.

On a voice vote, lawmakers rejected a proposal to add $400,000 to the state budget to pay for the procedure. They were unconvinced by arguments by Sen. Susan Gerard, R-Phoenix, that the expense - less than one one-hundredth of a percent of the $6.5 billion budget - is a worthwhile expense, from both a social and a health standpoint.

"I don't think you want to make poor newborn males potentially be differentiated from other newborn males because their parents couldn't afford to have them circumcised," Gerard said.

The procedure is now included in the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System.

Gerard also said there is a "strong link" between men who are uncircumcised and the women they are with developing cervical cancer.

"I don't think we really want to be responsible for that," she said. "We'll probably find ourselves being sued down the road for that one."

Sen. Dean Martin, R-Phoenix, agreed. "These cutbacks are going a little too far," he said.

But most lawmakers ended up siding with Sen. Ruth Solomon, D-Tucson. She said the decision was part of the overall budget deal with the House.

(File prepared 20 May 2002)