People are saying, ‘Why do it? Many doctors still recommend circumcision because of some evidence that it reduces the risk of penile cancer, urinary tract infections, HIV and perhaps other sexual transmitted diseases. Many major insurance companies still cover it, and many hospitals offer it free for newborns.


But circumcision opponents say the medical benefits are dubious. Penile cancer, for example, is extremely rare. Since 1999, the American Academy of Pediatrics has not endorsed routine circumcision. The debate escalated in February, when studies found that heterosexual men in Africa who were circumcised had HIV infection rates up to 60 percent lower than uncircumcised men. Because of those studies, the American Academy of Pediatrics is taking another look at its policy.

About one in three males worldwide is circumcised. In California, the rate of hospital circumcisions among newborns was 21 percent. California – which has more immigrants than any other state – had the lowest circumcision rate in the study, which had comprehensive data on only 27 states.

Circumcision is still common in many Jewish and Muslim communities. Ruth Katz, 38, of San Francisco had both her sons circumcised at brises. She and her husband, Michael Rapaport, were astonished when the teacher in their birthing class described circumcision as “immoral” and “not consensual. “The edict to have your son circumcised was the first covenant with God – the first challenge to being Jewish,” said Katz, pursuing a master’s degree in business administration. “I am a progressive person and think a lot about human rights issues, but I have never questioned this.”

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