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Some costs are overlooked

Posted by Academic on 24 Jan 2010 at 22:01 GMT

This article misses a couple of important costs of neonatal circumcision. Although these costs cannot be measured precisely in monetary terms, they are nonetheless real, and should be considered in any discussion of neonatal circumcision. These are costs to individuals and families, to wit:

Cost to individuals: A man who was circumcised as a newborn never knows what it is like to have a full, complete, normal penis. The foreskin is a major part of the penis, and the experience of having an intact penis is different from that of having a penis that is missing the foreskin.

Cost to families: Neonatal circumcision is, as everyone knows, a controversial procedure. Family members often disagree about controversial matters. There is no reason that this should be any less so for circumcision than for other controversial matters. It is inevitable, then, that in some families children and parents will disagree about circumcision. Men who were born during the heyday of circumcision in the U.S. know that it was virtually a foregone conclusion when they were born that they would be circumcised, whereas boys who are born nowadays will come to know that their parents had a choice as to whether to have them circumcised. Those who are circumcised will know that their parents made a conscious, deliberate decision to have part of their genitals amputated. Undoubtedly, many will come to resent that irreversible decision that their parents imposed upon them without their consent. Some of them may express their resentment to their parents, and others may wish not to bring it up but will silently hold a grudge. This is a real cost in terms of family harmony and parent-child relationships.

No competing interests declared.