The circumcision decision

Miriam Pollack, author of "Circumcision: A Jewish Feminist Perspective," says the foreskin first qualified as a site of potential hygiene trouble during the first half of the 20th century, when many men were engaged in the dirty business of war.

"Soggy trenches and humid jungles where little possibility for a shower or change of clothing existed were not hospitable environments for maintaining minimal foreskin hygiene," she writes. Consequently, the military soon added its authority to the voices advocating foreskin removal as a health benefit.


"All of the western world raises its children uncircumcised and it seems logical that, with the extent of health knowledge in those countries, such a practice must be safe."
--C. Everett Koop, M.D., Former Surgeon General of the United States, Saturday Evening Post, July 1982

The National Center for Health Statistics estimates that roughly 65 percent of newborn males in the United States are circumcised each year, making it a far more common practice than in Asia, South and Central America, and most of Europe. In the United States, circumcision is far more common among whites than blacks or Hispanics (81 percent versus 65 percent and 54 percent, respectively). The overall percentages of circumcised infants have remained relatively unchanged throughout the past two decades

Research shows that approximately 80 percent of the world's population including Europe, the former U.S.S.R., China and Japan has never engaged in the practice of circumcision. Generally, circumcision has been practiced only within the context of tribal or religious traditions. This is true for Jews, Muslims, most black Africans, non-white Australians and others. The exception is the United States, where routine circumcision has gained widespread acceptance. The rate of circumcision in Great Britain has dropped to approximately one percent, whereas in the United States it is estimated to be 65 percent or higher.

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