THE MEDICAL POST, Volume 38, Number 19,
Toronto, May 14, 2002.


Circumcision same as removing
healthy breasts, fingers at birth

• Re: "Circumcision may reduce risk of HPV infection," the Medical Post, April 23.

The finding that circumcision may reduce the risk of HPV infection needs to be put in perspective. The central issue is not whether circumcision prevents disease, but whether removing normal, healthy sexual tissue from infants and children is ethical.

No part of the body comes with a lifetime guarantee against disease. Breasts become cancerous, fingers become arthritic, earlobes develop malignant melanomas. If disease prevention is insufficient justification for amputating fingers, breasts or earlobes, then it is insufficient justification for amputating foreskins.

The foreskin's location and structure indicate it is the most important sensory tissue of the penis. Just inside the tip of the foreskin is a prominent band of ridged mucosa (the "ridged band") that expands and contracts like an accordion during erection and sexual intercourse, triggering sexual reflexes.

Because circumcision is a long-standing practice with religious significance for some, there has been a reluctance to view this procedure with the same critical eye used to view other medical procedures. However, ethics are not ethics unless they are applied consistently. We believe circumcision practices in Canada should be carefully reviewed to ensure they conform to basic principles of ethics, law and human rights.

Dr. Arif Bhimji, spokesperson for the Association for Genital Integrity.

  • Bhimji A. Circumcision same as removing healthy breasts, fingers at birth. Medical Post, 2002;38(19).

(File prepared 17 May 2002)