Circumcision: A parent’s decision

One million of these procedures are performed each year in America, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians. And yet it is an elective surgery — not at all necessary.

Circumcision, the surgical removal of the foreskin from the penis, is usually performed shortly after a boy’s birth.

Federal Way resident Laura Moore, 34, decided against circumcision after she learned she was having twin boys. As a registered nurse, she has witnessed three circumcisions.

“I couldn’t imagine hurting them,” she said.

Initially, Moore left the decision up to her husband. After researching online and talking to co-workers about their professional experience, Moore said she and her husband could not come up with a good enough reason to do it.

Health benefits

Agencies including the World Health Organization cite many health benefits of circumcision.

Studies have shown that a circumcised male is less likely to get urinary tract infections and certain cancers. Evidence also suggests circumcision may help prevent HIV infection, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Moore said that circumcised or not, her children will all learn to be responsible for their own health. Although her circumcised son may be less prone to infection, there is no reason for him to be more careless than his younger brothers.

Advocates for circumcision openly discuss the benefits of circumcision as a way of protecting men from contracting HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Those opposed to the procedure insist that this a dangerous and misleading fact.

Ryan McAllister, Ph.D., recently co-authored a study regarding circumcision and the spread of HIV: “Condoms succeed 99 percent of the time, while circumcision, at best, fails about half the time.”

Moore and her husband are not against circumcision, but she said “for us, it wasn’t the right thing.”

However, she encourages parents to think about their reasons for circumcising. Moore said her oldest son, from a previous marriage, was supportive of her decision to not circumcise the twins. Afterward, she felt some guilt about her oldest son, now 14, who was circumcised.

“I didn’t question it then. It was what you did,” she said.

The twins are 21-months-old, and Moore said that she and her husband have no regrets. However, that doesn’t seem to stop people from trying to change that. After almost two years, Moore said that some family members, and even her pediatrician, still try to talk her into having the circumcision done.

Moore recalls a friend who regretted not having her son circumcised, then did so when the boy was 2 years old.

Moore said she felt bad for the boy, who seemed uncomfortable and didn’t know what was going on. She feels strongly that if it’s going to be done, circumcision should be done either as a newborn or a grown man.

As for the future, Moore and her husband agreed that if either of her sons wanted to be circumcised later, for whatever reason, they would pay for it.

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