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Queens doctor targeted over circumcisions

Photo courtesy Anthony Losquandro
By Bianca Fortis

An organization advocating against circumcision of baby boys targeted a Queens doctor in its latest demonstration.

A group of about 18 protesters marched in front of the Forest Hills Gardens home of Dr. Susan Blank and along Union Turnpike, according to Anthony Losquadro, founder and executive director of the Brooklyn-based Intaction.

Blank is chairwoman of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Task Force on Circumcision, which last year updated its policy on the procedure to say that research indicates it is associated with some health benefits.

Intaction, which argues that circumcision is akin to female genital mutilation, wants the AAP to retract the policy. They believe the decision of whether to be circumcised should be left up to men when they are adults.

Blank could not be reached for comment.

He said anti-circumcision activists have sent thousands of letters and e-mails to the academy, but have received no response, so they took the next step by protesting.

“Our intent was to make sure our message gets heard,” Losquadro said.

The AAP’s previous policy statement noted only “potential medical benefits” from the procedure.

The task force evaluated peer-reviewed literature from 1995 through 2010 and determined that there are some benefits.

The policy, published in 2012, states: “The evaluation of current evidence indicates that the health benefits of newborn male circumcision outweigh the risks and that the procedure’s benefits justify access to this procedure for families who choose it.”

Specific benefits include the prevention of some sexually transmitted infections, such as HIV, as well as penile cancer and urinary tract infections, according to the policy.

The AAP maintains the procedure is well-tolerated when performed by trained professionals under sterile conditions and appropriate pain management. Complications are generally infrequent and minor and newborns have especially low complication rates.

“Although health benefits are not great enough to recommend routine circumcision for all male newborns, the benefits of circumcision are sufficient to justify access to this procedure for families choosing it and to warrant third-party payment for circumcision of male newborns,” the policy states. “It is important that clinicians routinely inform parents of the health benefits and risks of male newborn circumcision in an unbiased and accurate manner.”

The AAP declined to comment.

Losquadro emphasized that the group’s members come from a variety of religious backgrounds and ethnicities and respect that some parents choose circumcision for religious reasons.

“We have no desire to interfere with anyone’s practice of their religious beliefs,” he said.

“As an infant boy, you get no say in the matter,” he continued. “Parents and doctors are following the advice of the academy. Babies have no say. We have to be their voice.”

Reach reporter Bianca Fortis by email at bfortis@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.

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