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I was amazed at the adverse response to Dr Fitton's Soapbox article on circumcision (Letters, February 12 and 19).

The important distinction the letters failed to make clear is between medical and religious circumcision. Medical circumcision on a child too young to consent to the procedure should only be carried out when there is a clear indication, such as severe phimosis or recurrent balanitis.

Doctors have no place undertaking religious circumcision in my opinion, as by doing so we are medicalising a purely social ritual.

Before I am accused of racism, I will make it clear I find religious circumcision unpalatable as it is a medically unnecessary procedure, on an unconsenting male. I'm afraid the health benefit arguments of religious circumcision just do not stand up.

One may just as well argue that performing elective appendicectomies and tonsillectomies on babies will reduce the risk of health problems in the future. The point that has been missed is that the prepuce is a structure with a very specific and important function ­ to protect the glans of the penis.

If it is important to be circumcised for religious reasons, then the most ethical way would be to wait until the child has capacity to give informed consent for the procedure.

Offer a circumcision to 100 men with healthy foreskins, how many do you think would take you up on the offer?

Dr David Turner


·I, too, am against genital mutilation for any reason except the strictly clinical (Soapbox, February 5) and have been threatened by Muslim patients for not referring their newborn son for circumcision. I held my ground and said I found the practice barbaric, and very little to do with belief in God. The family told me they would otherwise have to pay £1,700 for the operation. The child is now six and still has an intact foreskin.

I doubt God will reject him because of this, and I hope he has a fulfilling sex life when the time comes, and will be grateful his parents did not want to spend £1,700 on having him disfigured.

It is time this practice was outlawed in this country. We would not condone female genital mutilation, I presume?

Dr Susanna Timmins



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