RACP - Update Your Circumcision Policy Statement

We call on The Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) to update its 2010 policy statement on circumcision. This outdated statement contains numerous contradictions, gender biases, inaccuracies, omissions and does not reflect the medical industry’s modern understanding of human anatomy, medical ethics or children’s rights.

The background

In 2010 they released their current policy statement. We outline the failings in this statement below.

In the absence of evidence of significant harm….

We invite the RACP to examine the large body of evidence on the immediate harms of the procedure, as well as the life-long harms. We provide a list of references to these harms in the section below. RACP is only considering the unintended harms, but even so, are these not signifcant? Is loss of the entire penis not a significant enough harm? Is death not a significant harm?  But then the intended harm – which is the loss of the foreskin – an important sensitive, protective and functional part of the human body. In addition, while they have misunderstood the significance of the harm caused by circumcision, by excluding “significant” harm, what they are effectively saying is that it is acceptable to cause some level of harm to a perfectly healthy and non-consenting individual.

The policy refers to ‘parental rights’.

The RACP has misunderstood the role of parents in making decisions about the health of the children in their care. Parents do not have rights to decide whatever they please, but rather they have responsibilities to make these decisions that are in the best interests of the children in their care. This is the concept of proxy consent. We put it to the RACP that cutting off a protective, sensual and functional body part of a perfectly healthy child cannot under any interpretation of rules around proxy consent, be considered to be in the best interests of the child.

Throughout the policy, the RACP refers to the circumcision of infant males as both ‘non-therapeutic’ and as a ‘medical procedure’.

The RACP is inconsistent in this most basic determination on whether the procedure is ‘medical’ or ‘non-therapeutic’. It can’t be both non-medical and medical at the same time!

“…the foreskin is a primary sensory part of the penis, containing some of the most sensitive areas of the penis.”

The RACP acknowledges the important sensory functions of the foreskin, then concludes that the effects of circumcision are unclear by citing cherry-picked anecdotal studies. How can the foreskin be a primary sensory part, but circumcision not have negative sensory consequences? In addition, this short paragraph is the only brief mention of the functions of the foreskin. As stated by Doctors Opposing Circumcision, “Ignorance of the functions of the foreskin translates to a devaluing of the foreskin, accompanied by a complacent willingness to promote circumcision.”

Evidence of significant harm

See below for global evidence of harm.

Global Survey of Circumcision Harm

A survey investigating the long-term adverse physical, sexual, emotional or psychological consequences of infant/childhood circumcision on the health of adult men. In March 2017 survey results were published in the International Journal of Human Rights.

Circumcision suicides

This is just one of many documented cases of a young man whose ritual circumcision as an infant was a major contributing factor to his depression and suicide. See more stories here and here.

Loss of function

The most significant harm from circumcision is the intended harm from the procedure itself – ie. the loss of the foreskin and all of its protective and sexual functions. Read about the functions of the foreskin here.

Complications

In addition to the certain harms resulting from the loss of the foreskin, there are also frequent complications, or unintended harms resulting from circumcision. Read more here. and here.

Circumcision’s Psychological Damage

Psychology Today explains the immediate and long term psychological effects of circumcision in this post.

Questions for consideration

We put forward the following questions for the RACP to consider when reviewing their current circumcision policy.

Bodily Autonomy

How does the forced removal of a primary sensory part of a person’s genitals fit with the concept of bodily autonomy, ie. the right of each human being, including children, to autonomy and self-determination over their own body?

Read more…

 

Individual Religious Freedoms

How does forcing the removal of a healthy body part to satisfy the parents’ religious practice protect that individual’s rights to practice their own chosen religion?

Read more…

Medical Ethics

How does operating on a healthy, non-consenting individual to remove a healthy, protective, sensual and functional body part fit within the framework of ethical medical practice?

Read more…

Human Rights

How does your policy statement stack up against the United Nations Conventions on the Rights of the Child?

Read more at the Australian Human Rights Commission…

 

Hippocratic Oath

How does your policy stack up against the the Hippocratic Oath, a vow taken by medical practitioners which in translation and summary says  “First, do no harm”. Note that it says “no” harm – it does not make any exceptions to cause any harm, no matter how insignificant that harm may be (incorrectly) thought to be, for the cultural or religious practices of another.

Read more at the Circumcision Resource Centre…

Anatomical Functions

Does your policy adequately explain all of the anatomical parts of the foreskin, their protective and sexual functions and the immediate and life-long impacts of the loss of those parts?

Read more…

Let us know!

 Do you have any further sources for circumcision harm? Have you noted any other innacuracies, inconsistencies or biases in the RACP policy statement?  Send us the details by clicking the button below.

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