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The Myths and Facts of Circumcision

November 16, 1986

Regarding the "Spirited Debate Over the Question of Circumcision" (by Allan Parachini, Nov. 4): Kudos to Loraine Stern for her brave stand, and to Aaron Fink for his concerns about the spread of the AIDS virus. Are we really continuing to perpetuate a myth that has been handed down for generations concerning one of the oldest and most common practices of physical alteration of the natural body?

Dr. Martin Gershman of the American Academy of Pediatrics' California district makes some fine points, but summarizes, "A kid, as he grows up, wants to be like his dad (and his friends)." Today's man, however, wants to make known his concern that there should be freedom of choice.

Dr. Thomas Wiswell of the Brooke Army Medical Center strongly opts for making sure that parents are aware of "all aspects of the circumcision debate," so that they can make the best decision for their own sons. Many doctors for 20 years or more have been of the opinion that circumcision as a standard operating procedure is an unnecessary one. They have questioned its benefits and are aware of the definite number of instances of complications arising from surgery of the newborn infant.

There remains a great deal to be learned, and to be unlearned. There are still barriers to be broken, and fresh concepts to replace biases. We have come to believe from all the how-to-books that we know everything, yet it appears that the field of human sexuality is still in its infancy. Much could be learned from basic research for valid and practical analyses of this matter being debated. Author-psychiatrist Dr. David Reuben remarks that ignorance reigns supreme in the most personal aspects of the life of the human being.

It was shocking to note that California Blue Shield stopped reimbursement for circumcision in 1972, with Pennsylvania Blue Shield and Prudential Insurance discontinuing this year.

DIANA LILLEY SMITH

Claremont

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