WASHINGTON POST, Sunday, June 23, 2002: Page A2.

A national briefing of people, issues and events around the country

Sunday, June 23, 2002; Page A02

North Carolina Group Fights State Funding for Circumcisions

Are you or aren't you?

It's not a delicate question, that's for sure. But some lawmakers in Raleigh, N.C., seem to want to answer it, even when no one is asking.

There is just something about the debate over using state money to pay for circumcisions that can turn hallway lobbying sessions with legislators into strangely revealing confessionals, said Donna Larkin, a circumcision opponent.

"A lot of them are older gentlemen," said Larkin, a supermarket checker from the tiny town of Troutman in central North Carolina. "They'll tell you their circumcision status. They'll say: 'Well, I'm circumcised. . . .' I'm like, 'I don't need to know that.' "

Larkin and a group of circumcision opponents are pushing the North Carolina Legislature to cut payments for circumcisions from the state's Medicaid program. They say the procedure is medically unnecessary and traumatic, limits sexual pleasure and increases the chances of urinary tract infections.

They won a brief victory last year when the state suspended circumcision coverage for two months before Gov. Mike Easley (D) prevailed on the state's Health and Human Services Department to restore the funding. Now the circumcision opponents are back, hoping to make North Carolina the eighth state to end such coverage.

An early version of the state budget passed last week by the state Senate removes circumcision coverage, which amounts to about $250,000 a year. But many rewrites lie ahead.

-- Rene Sanchez

Cite as:
(File prepared 23 June 2002)