To snip or not to snip? The great circumcision debate reignites

Stacey Ward with her family. Photo: Megan Dunn
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Is it the unkindest cut of all or is circumcision making a comeback?

The controversial topic has faced many twists and turns over the years, with a range of ever-changing trends and opinions.

In the 1950s the rate of circumcision in Australia was about 80 per cent, yet jump to present day and it’s estimated that only around 20 per cent of newborn boys are circumcised.

In an online poll conducted by the Weekender recently, 57 per cent of parents said they were against getting their sons circumcised.

Jordan Springs mum of two, Stacey Ward, said she was pro-circumcision but ended up deciding against the procedure.

“I was completely for circumcision, adamant that our sons would have it until my midwife said that if our son wanted it later it could be done but you can’t ever sew it back on,” Ms Ward said.

“In the ‘50s it was just done no matter what, but they have realised it’s not necessary. My boys are five and three, so they probably won’t get it done unless medically necessary, but it will be their decision later in life if they really want to.”

Dr Adrian Sheen, who performs circumcisions at Mulgoa Medical Centre, said midwives are part of the reason parents choose not to circumcise their sons.

“Midwives often make people feel uncomfortable about talking about it, which is unreasonable because whether you agree with it or disagree with it, people should be given a choice and the correct facts,” he said.

“It is a highly personal decision that is different for every family, but a major problem is people in public hospitals are not given the opportunity as they will not perform the procedure.”

Dr Adrian Sheen. Photo: Megan Dunn.

Dr Sheen said the practice would never completely cease but instead predicts a resurgence in popularity.

“If you look at Medicare statistics, they aren’t perfect, but they do suggest it’s a trend that will slowly go up again and will increase with a number of people making the decision they want their baby circumcised for various reasons,” he said.

“It won’t disappear as we have Jewish people, other religions and many cultures in Australia now, so we just have to make sure if they get the procedure, it is done by well-trained doctors that are experienced, so that is goes smoothly.”

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