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I was looking around the Internet yesterday for some information about how God asked the Israelites to the sign the covenant at Sinai — at one point he has them sprinkle blood — when I stumbled onto this exchange with Ann Landers about circumcision. Given all the talk on Beliefnet in the last few days (like here and here)about what some are calling genital mutilation and others are calling important beautification, I thought I’d pass this along.

Dear Ann Landers:
My wife and I were both in our mid-30s when we married four years ago. We did not plan on having a family, but when she discovered she was pregnant at the age of 40, we were thrilled. We learned through amniocentesis that the baby she is carrying is a boy. We are terribly excited. Now comes the problem: Should the baby be circumcised? I say yes. My wife says no. According to what she has read, the practice is no longer necessary, and she sees no reason to put the infant through all that pain.
Our family physician and my wife’s obstetrician are both in favor of circumcision, but they say the decision must be made by the parents. Since my wife and I hold opposite views, we’d like yours.
–Mr. Pro and Mrs. Con in Baltimore
Dear P. and C.:
Some highly respected physicians can be found on both sides of this issue. Circumcision of newborns was considered a routine procedure until 1971, when the American Academy of Pediatrics said there might be religious reasons for circumcision, but it had no medical benefits whatsoever.
Years later, after a survey was taken at several hospitals, it was discovered that the babies who were NOT circumcised were 10 times more likely to suffer from urinary tract problems and kidney infections than those who had gone through the procedure.
Dr. Thomas E. Wiswell, chief of neonatology at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, who previously had opposed circumcision, changed his mind when he read studies that indicated circumcision affords a high degree of protection against cancer of the penis. Of the 50,000 cases of penile cancer reviewed, only 10 occurred in men who were circumcised.
Have I told you more than you wanted to know? Perhaps, but the statistics make a strong case for circumcision. (February 21, 1993)

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