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July 16, 1997

Advantages and Disadvantages of Neonatal Circumcision

Author Affiliations

Circumcision Resource Center Boston, Mass

JAMA. 1997;278(3):202. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03550030042023

To the Editor.  —Circumcision depends on the perpetuation of American cultural beliefs that support it. One way to justify inflicting pain and harm on others is to believe that otherwise more pain and harm will follow. Using this strategy to defend circumcision requires minimizing or denying the harm caused by circumcision and producing medical claims about protection from potential future pain and harm. Circumcision advocates claim that the surgery has prophylactic effects. Laumann et al1 provide another response to this belief.For some people, claims of medical benefits are sufficient justification for circumcision partly because circumcision is a surgical procedure that is done on someone else. Using medical claims and studies to defend circumcision may be an unconscious way for some physicians to avoid the emotional discomfort of questioning their own circumcision. A survey of primary care physicians showed that circumcision was supported more often by physicians who were older, male, and