Medicine: The Case Against Circumcision

Few operations are more common in the U.S. than circumcision—the surgical removal of the foreskin covering the penis. Once it was practiced mainly by Jews and Moslems, whose reasons are religious,* not medical. Now it is so widely accepted as a hygienic measure that 80% of all American baby boys are circumcised shortly after birth.

Is the operation necessary? Not according to Captain E. Noel Preston, a pediatrician stationed at California's Vandenberg Air Force Base. Writing in the A.M.A. Journal, Preston notes that the operation, performed from three to eight days after birth, can...