Monday March 10, 2014
Petition Calls Attention to Lack of Balance in Circumcision ReportingSalem-News.com
Petition urges media to report circumcision harm.
(WASHINGTON D.C.) - Journalists have professional and ethical obligations to present different views on controversial issues. Unfortunately, most reporting on the topic of male infant circumcision tends to be virtually one-sided, claiming a debatable potential health benefit, and ignoring the inherent harm of this genital surgery. We the undersigned want balanced reporting on circumcision.
Parents sometimes make a circumcision decision that they later deeply regret. Many parents are unaware that among the harmful effects of circumcision are significant pain and trauma, behavioral and neurological changes in infants, potential parental stress from persistent crying of infants (colic), disrupted bonding between parent and child, loss of a natural, healthy, functioning body part, and risk of surgical complications. In the long term the consequences of circumcision include reduced sexual pleasure, potential psychological problems, and unknown negative effects that have not been studied. For these reasons, some doctors refuse to perform circumcisions because of ethical considerations. Clearly, there is plenty of information about circumcision harm that is not being reported.
The pro-circumcision bias in American culture and media reflects the pro-circumcision bias in American medicine. This bias influences who chooses to study circumcision, what questions are studied and what questions are ignored; and which studies are approved for publication. Most American medical studies that assess the advisability of circumcision focus on the search for a presumed benefit. (For example, they refuse to study circumcision and erectile dysfunction. A survey in a men's health journal found that circumcised men were 4.53 times more likely to use an erectile dysfunction drug.)
This bias is consistent with an American Academy of Pediatrics Circumcision Policy Statement Task Force member's statement that the previous committee was formed "to determine if there was scientific evidence to justify circumcision." The answer is limited by the assumption in the statement of the problem. Consequently, the existing Policy uses about ten times more space discussing potential benefits as compared to potential harm.
American circumcision studies have found dozens of "benefits," from treating epilepsy and masturbation in the late 1800s to preventing sexually transmitted diseases today. Though such claims generally do not withstand scrutiny by medical policy committees, their continued publication over the years has led to medical myths while raising questions about some researchers' motives. Circumcision advocates' careers, reputations, and associated funding depend on finding potential benefits for circumcision.
Circumcision advocates are using the media to promote their agenda with debatable studies that have been reviewed by other circumcision advocates but not by circumcision critics. The public deserves more complete information. We urge you to keep journalism principles in mind when reporting about circumcision and take the following steps:
1. Inform the public about circumcision harm.
2. Contact circumcision critics before routinely publishing pro-circumcision claims and provide equal space for a rebuttal.
3. Do not rely solely on presumed authorities (e.g., American Academy of Pediatrics or doctors who echo AAP views) because they tend to have a pro-circumcision bias.
4. Read published journal articles written by circumcision critics (contact Circumcision Resource Center for suggestions).
5. Examine your own biases if you are circumcised, have circumcised sons, or belong to a group that circumcises.
A critical examination of circumcision can contribute to the future sexual and psychological health of men and society.
To sign the petition visit: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/urge-media-to-report-circumcision-harm/
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