2008-09-05 The Advocate - Review of policy on 'cruel cut'
Review of policy on `cruel cut'
BY CHRIS PIPPOS
5/09/2008 9:34:00 AM
THE medical fraternity is reviewing its policy on circumcision - a medical procedure Tasmania's Commissioner for Children wants immediately banned unless it is medically necessary.
Submissions closed yesterday on the Royal Australasian College of Physicians' (RACP) policy review into circumcision.
According to Coastal midwife and Independent MLC Ruth Forrest, circumcision was more common on the Coast a decade ago, but the procedure was still done for non-medical reasons.
Commissioner for Children Paul Mason has called for an end to all types of medically unnecessary surgery on the genitals of healthy babies and children.
"Operating on a defenceless baby's genitals unnecessarily is abusive and cruel," Mr Mason said.
"With one or two clear and urgent exceptions, there is no medical risk or condition that demands surgery on your genitals before you are old enough to make that decision for yourself. "
Mr Mason urged the RACP to adopt his stand.
"Ignoring the rights of babies flies in the face of the college's own manual of ethics ...," he said.
Ms Forrest opposed a total circumcision ban, but said such a procedure should not be done until the baby was at least six months old, and generally only for medical reasons.
"There's been a shift away from doing it for cosmetic reasons - I support that," Ms Forrest said.
"It used to be reasonably common in Burnie where I worked.
"I remember holding babies down to have it done - it was quite a traumatic experience."
However, there has been an influx of new obstetricians to the area over the past decade who refused to circumcise babies, she said.
North-West Regional Hospital director of surgery Scott Fletcher said very few circumcisions were performed in the public system, with only seven medically necessary procedures done in 2008.