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September 4, 2002

Beatrice's Choice

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JAMA. 2002;288(9):1135. doi:10.1001/jama.288.9.1135-JMS0904-6-1

Beatrice did not greet me as I walked into the exam room, and I knew something was wrong. "I'm worried. I only think about one thing," she began. "When I return to Sudan I must be circumcised. But I fear the pain, and I have seen infection kill my cousins. I want you to perform my circumcision."

Almost before the magnitude of her request hit me, an excuse leaped out of my mouth, "But I don't do that—I've never performed a female circumcision before."

"But you can help me," she replied quietly.

"Who told you that you must be circumcised?" I wondered aloud.