For most men born in the US, circumcision is almost a rite of passage - something done at the hospital, or during ritual briss. But now, new questions have risen about the medical necessity, and risk, of the procedure. In tonight's 7 News Reports, Caterina Bandini looks at the growing controversy surrounding circumcision.
Miriam Pollack, Mother Against Circumcision
"His screams are embedded in my bones."
Miriam Pollack followed her Jewish beliefs, and had her son circumcised. Now she's sure she made the wrong decision.
More than a million newborn males are circumcised each year in the US. While the procedure is listed as a surgery, it's done almost routinely. But now there are new concerns about the safety of circumcisions, as some parents charge the practice left their children emotionally and physically traumatized.
Psychologist Ron Goldman is the director of the Circumcision Resource Center in Boston, an organization that gives parents information about the elective procedure. He says studies show circumcisions can leave behind an emotional scar.
And there can be physical risks - like bleeding and infection. Some anti-circumcision groups claim complications from circumcision cause more than 100 infant deaths a year.
Boston attorney Eric Parker has handled a half dozen cases of children whose parents say they were scarred by circumcision mishaps.
While lawsuits over the practice of circumcision are relatively new, the procedure itself can be traced to the book of genesis where it symbolizes the Jewish connection to god. Today, the US has the highest rate of circumcision in the world, most are performed in hospitals or during the Jewish Briss ceremony. Most doctors agree that if performed properly a circumcision is safe.
Although complications are rare, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued new guidelines which say there is no medical foundation for routine circumcision.
Miriam Pollack says that's not enough. After the trauma her son experienced she'd like to see the practice banned.
Medical experts say circumcision is big business in the US. It's a procedure which costs Americans more than 300 million dollars a year.