Protesters against male circumcision marched outside the White House this week to mark Genital Integrity Awareness Week. The foreskin defenders, who call themselves "intactivists," want a federal ban on infant circumcision. As the Washington Post reports:
How intactivists define circumcision: a cruel, traumatic and unnecessary surgery (the American Academy of Pediatrics says the benefits are not sufficient enough to recommend the procedure) that causes enduring sexual and psychological injury to a helpless infant who can't give his consent.
How much of the medical community defines circumcision: a simple, nearly painless operation that removes an obsolete part of the body that can increase a man's susceptibility to infections and sexually transmitted diseases (circumcision reduces the risk of getting HIV by 60 percent, studies show).
How religion defines circumcision: as a covenant with God, as conveyed to Abraham.
It's a lopsided fight, but each side has doctors and lawyers. Each side has data. Each accuses the other of denial. One side is labeled as a bunch of baby-cutting sex criminals. The other is labeled as sex-obsessed, fanatical loonies who are duping the public.
Interestingly, numerous reports have found that circumcision reduces the chance of being infected with HIV and a study out last week in the New England Journal of Medicine found:
Heterosexual men who undergo medical circumcision can significantly reduce their risk of acquiring two common sexually transmitted infections–herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2), the cause of genital herpes, and human papillomavirus (HPV), which can cause cancer and genital warts…."
On the other hand, a study published in 2007 found that circumcision may reduce sexual sensation:
…the transitional region from the external to the internal prepuce is the most sensitive region of the uncircumcised penis and more sensitive than the most sensitive region of the circumcised penis. It appears that circumcision ablates the most sensitive parts of the penis.
Tradeoffs. Always damned tradeoffs!