Reports of the African studies continue to pop up in the nation’s media, months after the original news.
Michael Gerson’s report in the Washington Post on June 1, 2007, A Surgical Strike Against AIDS, is full of controversial statements. In this, it is a truthful description of the current state of public policy. According to the author of this piece, researcher Robert Baily boasts that “there is nothing else currently out there in public health or HIV prevention with protection results this compelling” but also states that “people will still need to use condoms consistently, still need to reduce their partners, still need to practice faithfulness”. Well, which measure is more protective then? How could circumcision be described as the prevention measure that is most compelling, if by itself, it is not as protective as consistent condom use? And if condom use is practiced, what is the point of circumcision?
Giving African men the option of circumcision is a “matter of moral urgency”, Gerson proclaims, trying to invoke feelings of guilt in those who would be reluctant to support this prevention measure. He calls for support of the world’s nations for this surgery to be implemented not only for adults but infants as well. He is obviously not aware of the ethical implications of this leap from making circumcision a choice for at risk adults to forcing it on helpless infants.
This swift acceptance of circumcision despite the obvious logical contradictions can only come from people accustomed to the practice of circumcision in their own culture. The reason why European nations are resistant to the implementation of this measure may just be that they have different moral values. Perhaps they can see more in an infant’s objection to this surgery
then than simply an aversion to pain. Since European cultures have no interest in proving that circumcision has health benefits, they may still be sensitive to the rights of an infant to keep his genitals unaltered. Perhaps, since most European males have experienced life with a foreskin, they may find it delusional for a man to choose to have it cut off rather than put on a condom to prevent infection.
“When it comes to AIDS, circumcision is the kindest cut”, concludes Gerson. It is very difficult for men to accept that they were denied a part of their anatomy for no appreciable health benefits. It is hard to resist the temptation for a justification for this surgery, however illogical it may be.
[Link to original article provided above instead of being provided after the jump.]
THANK YOU to Adrienne Soti for this contribution.