INTACT AMERICA, THE NATION'S LEADING CRITIC OF INFANT CIRCUMCISION,
KICKED OUT OF THE AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS' NATIONAL CONVENTION
AAP cites website content, Facebook page for barring exhibition booth
for which the group had already accepted payment. Intact America plans protests
in streets of New Orleans when AAP meets starting October 20th.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 11, 2012
TARRYTOWN, NY—The American Academy of Pediatrics, reeling under criticism by advocates for human rights and children’s health of its recent report seeking reimbursement for neonatal male circumcisions, today suddenly canceled a contract that the nation’s leading group criticizing the unnecessary surgery had signed for an exhibition booth at its upcoming convention in New Orleans.
“The AAP has stacked the deck by filling its Circumcision Task Force with pro-circumcision doctors and activists, and apparently is afraid to let its members learn the truth about the unnecessary, unethical, and risky surgery its members perform more than a million times a year on unconsenting baby boys,” said Georganne Chapin, Executive Director of Intact America, which has exhibited at several recent AAP conventions without incident.
“They can kick us out of their hall, but they can’t escape the growing realization that they have trapped themselves in an ethical quagmire by seeking reimbursement for surgery the American Medical Association properly calls ‘non-therapeutic,’” Chapin said. “They know that growing numbers of American parents are saying no to the removal of healthy functioning tissue from the genitals of their baby boys in a surgery that is a violation of medical ethics and the baby’s basic human rights.”
While the male circumcision rate in the United States was around 80 percent 30 years ago, it has steadily dropped to around 50 percent today. In Europe, circumcision rates in most countries are well under 10 percent, and European physician groups and even courts are now calling for doctors to stop performing all child circumcisions that are not medically indicated.
The AAP action came shortly after Chapin authored an essay appearing in the Huffington Post, arguing that the AAP was acting more like a trade association than a doctors’ organization that claims to be “dedicated to the health of all children.” In its report issued this summer, the AAP Task Force acknowledged that there were not enough benefits to justify recommending circumcision, but sought to win approval for reimbursement by insurance companies and the 18 states’ Medicaid programs where the surgery is currently not covered.
“Although health benefits are not great enough to recommend routine circumcision for all male newborns, the benefits of circumcision are sufficient to justify access to this procedure for families choosing it and to warrant third-party payment for circumcision of male newborns,” the report reads.
The AAP relied heavily on studies of sexually-active adult African men and the role circumcision might play in retarding female-to-male—but not male-to-female—transmission of the HIV virus linked to AIDS. The AAP and Centers for Disease Control correctly report there is no evidence circumcision plays any role in retarding male-to-male HIV transmission, which along with sharing intravenous needles is the predominant mode of HIV transmission in the United States.
“Ethical and scientific problems with the African research aside, trying to extrapolate from studies of sexually active adult African men to infant boys in America is bad science, bad medicine and bad health policy,” Chapin said. “Medical ethics requires necessity and informed consent for something as invasive as surgery. The foreskin is normal tissue, an integral part of the male anatomy that protects the rest of the penis and plays an important role in sexual pleasure. Babies should be left alone; when they become men, they can make their own informed decision about whether they want to remove a part of their own penises.”
“Not only does the AAP Task Force report ignore the ethical obligation of physicians to respect their patients' autonomy and do no harm, it repeatedly calls for doctors to be paid for removing healthy, functioning tissue from somebody who cannot consent,” Chapin wrote.
The AAP letter, sent from its Illinois headquarters and dated October 10th, cited content on Intact America's website and Intact America’s Facebook page in withdrawing the organization’s approval for the exhibit booth. The letter notes that the AAP respects Intact America’s right to protest outside the convention center, which was something already planned for the weekend of the convention.
“Pediatricians must be reminded that their patients are the babies,” Chapin said. “If we can’t remind them in the hall, we will remind them in the streets of New Orleans.”