June 20, 1986

Circumcision: The Painful Dilemma

Author Affiliations

University of Arizona College of Medicine Tucson


by Rosemary Romberg, 454 pp, with illus, $34.95, paper $14.95, South Hadley, MA 01075 (670 Amherst Rd), Bergin & Garvey Publishers Inc, 1985.

JAMA. 1986;255(23):3309-3310. doi:10.1001/jama.1986.03370230115044

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This book is a highly emotional, thoroughly biased presentation of the horrors and disadvantages of circumcision, especially neonatal. Chapters are also devoted to the procedure in children after the neonatal period, females, and adult males. The author starts by describing her conversion from acceptance of circumcision for her three boys to violent opposition.

Fifty-two pages are devoted to circumcision and Judaism. This chapter contains a section (pp 67-73) in which there is the only interview in the book with someone in favor of circumcision—a rabbi, not a physician.

The chapter on complications is extensively referenced (pp 231-234)— mostly with case reports. The fact that nearly all significant complications can be prevented by proper techniques is not clearly stated and only indirectly referenced (p 203).

Much of the text is devoted to quotations from persons interviewed by the author, either in person or by letter—parents, older circumcised individuals, nurses, physicians, and