Children’s Rights Organization Praises Canadian Paediatric Society for Affirming Children’s Right to Protection in its Circumcision Statement

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The human rights group Attorneys for the Rights of the Child (ARC) (http://www.arclaw.org) has today praised the Canadian Paediatric Society (CPS) for acknowledging (http://www.cps.ca/en/documents/position/circumcision) children’s right to protection against newborn male circumcision. The CPS, which represents thousands of pediatric physicians and health care providers throughout Canada, concluded in its position statement issued today that despite the claims otherwise by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), benefits of the procedure do not outweigh risks and HIV-related justifications, based on studies of adult men in sub-Saharan Africa, do not suffice.

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The human rights group Attorneys for the Rights of the Child (ARC) (http://www.arclaw.org) has today praised the Canadian Paediatric Society (CPS) for acknowledging (http://www.cps.ca/en/documents/position/circumcision) children’s right to protection against newborn male circumcision. The CPS, which represents thousands of pediatric physicians and health care providers throughout Canada, concluded in its position statement issued today that despite the claims otherwise by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), benefits of the procedure do not outweigh risks and HIV-related justifications, based on studies of adult men in sub-Saharan Africa, do not suffice. This statement affirms and expands upon the CPS’ 1996 statement, which found that circumcision was not recommended as a routine practice.

ARC Executive Director J. Steven Svoboda observed, “The Canadian circumcision opinion is medically on stronger footing than the earlier American statement, since it emphasizes the anatomy and proper care of the intact penis, the non-negligible risks of neonatal circumcision, as well as non-surgical alternatives to circumcision. The Canadians have confirmed what medical experts and courts throughout the world have been saying for years, which is that male circumcision is not a sensible health care option.” Svoboda said, “Despite leaving open the possibility of parental authorization of the practice, the CPS properly emphasizes the importance of deferring elective circumcision until the patient can decide for himself. ”

The CPS took note of the failure of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to appropriately incorporate the costs of complications in its January 2015 draft circumcision guidelines. Americans are getting the message, as rates have dropped substantially in recent years. Svoboda stated, “Male circumcision violates medical ethics and the human rights of the child under international law, which is the supreme law of the land in the US. The United Nations is becoming concerned about the practice.”

Svoboda called the new CPS statement an important development in the debate about circumcision, adding that it highlighted a 2013 issue of the Journal of Medical Ethics that prominently included articles opposing circumcision by Brian Earp, Robert S. Van Howe, Robert Darby, and J. Steven Svoboda. He noted that the CPS’ refusal to accept US justifications for circumcision agrees with prevailing views among medical associations in the Netherlands, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, and elsewhere. Svoboda added, "Now American physicians who circumcise healthy boys, and the trade associations who back them, are even more isolated in their support for circumcision.”

The tide has turned against circumcision," Svoboda added, noting, "As the CPS position statement notes, rates continue to decrease in Western countries; hopefully soon it will be relegated entirely to the dustbin of history."

Attorneys for the Rights of the Child is a non-profit organization founded in 1997 to protect children from unnecessary medical procedures to which they do not consent. ARC works closely with its Canadian colleagues at the Children's Health and Human Rights Partnership (http://www.chhrp.org).

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J. Steven Svoboda

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