I am a celebrity, sort of
I was interviewed for an article by the Guardian, a UK website and newspaper. They even quoted me.
If the medical evidence is disputed, why is circumcision so widely accepted in the US? "I find it amazing," says Tally, a pseudonym for a 56-year-old American blogger who was circumcised at birth and is restoring his foreskin through non-surgical methods. He argues that "pecuniary gain" is one factor in its popularity in the US: circumcision typically costs $400 to $800. "I don't see the social conscience that you have in the UK or the Canadians have," says Tally. "We're driven very much by a sense of independence and profit."
Yesterday morning when I was getting ready for work I checked my e-mail messages. I had a request for an interview from Patrick Barkham, a writer for The Guardian, a UK newspaper and website. Patrick was writing an article about male infant circumcision in light of the recent revised policy statement by the American Academy of Pediatrics. He wanted to talk with me before his afternoon deadline. Unfortunately, afternoon in the UK is morning in the Eastern US.
I had to run some errands, but as soon as I got to my office I replied to Patrick with my thoughts on circumcision and why there is such a push in the United States to circumcise baby boys. I was surprised when I received a telephone call from him about two hours after his deadline. We spoke for about 20 minutes.
I told him that I was disappointed that the AAP circumcision policy statement released Monday failed to address the ethics of male infant genital cutting. The policy statement also failed to address the various harms caused by male infant circumcision and the risks of such surgery on an infant. The AAP relied too much on studies conducted in Africa, while ignoring studies with opposite results that were conducted in the Western world.
I told the reporter that I attribute the AAP policy to the cognitive dissonance between the widespread practice of circumcision in the United States and the fact that circumcision is harmful. How else could so many advocate for the continued genital cutting of baby boys? Many men circumcised at birth angrily defend circumcision and proudly proclaim that there is "nothing wrong" with their penis. As if they would know. They have never experienced sex with a whole penis. Many women, who are mothers of circumcised males, also strongly advocate for male infant circumcision because to do otherwise would be to admit that they harmed their sons.
Another factor I see motivating the AAP policy is pecuniary gain. Doctors and hospitals make lots of money doing the million or so infant circumcisions performed in the US every year. The AAP policy statement even includes a statement that circumcision should be paid by third parties. The doctor group says that if parents cannot afford the unnecessary, elective surgery, then insurance should pay for it. The AAP policy statement includes the endorsement by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). This group of doctor profits handsomely from performing infant circumcisions, even though their patient is typically the mother, not the child.
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The United States stands alone in the world with respect to medical care. We spend more per capita for medical care than any other country, but our outcomes are not any better than any other country. Doctors in the US are paid per procedure. Effectively, doctors in the US earn a commission on the work they perform. More infant circumcisions, the bigger the house or fancier car that they can afford.
When will Americans wake up. We are being robbed, not only of our money, but of our body parts.
- Forbes: Why Are U.S. Health Care Costs So High?
- Mail Online: What's killing America? U.S. ranks 28th in life expectancy (lower than Chile and Greece) while it pays the MOST for health care
- WonkBlog: Why an MRI costs $1,080 in America and $280 in France
The Washington Post: The high cost of medical procedures in the U.S.
This post has charts of costs worldwide for various medical procedures. The US charges more for the listed medical procedures than any other country.
- The New York Times: In Health Care, Cost Isn’t Proof of High Quality