The study undertaken by Taddio et al1 raises a number of troubling ethical and legal issues. Since neonatal circumcision is not medically required,2,3 and since newborns are people, the study involved performing nonessential surgery on nonconsenting people. Such research violates the principles enunciated in a number of human rights instruments, including a policy statement governing research on human subjects in Canada. This policy statement specifies among other things that "respect for human dignity entails high ethical obligations towards vulnerable persons," and "research subjects must not be subjected to unnecessary risks of harm.4 If neonatal circumcision is not medically required treatment, then were the research subjects of Taddio et al not exposed to unnecessary risks of harm?
Harrison D. Is Research on Newborn Circumcision Ethical?. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2001;155(5):618. doi:10.1001/archpedi.155.5.618