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Group brings circumcision discussion to Tucson streets

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Posted at 4:03 PM, Mar 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-04 14:47:08-05

TUCSON, Ariz. — The name of physician Keith Dveirin was misspelled in an earlier version of this story.

Protestors with a message for parents gathered in Tucson earlier this week. Their message: stop circumcising babies.

"It should be your choice how much of your genitals you keep and no one should be tampering with the genitals of children," said David Atkinson, one of The Bloodstained Men.

His group travels the country to protest circumcising babies.

"We have protested at the American Academy of Pediatrics conventions for several years," Atkinson said. "Also at the OBGYN conventions. They're the ones who often do penis cutting in hospitals."

The group compares circumcision to female genital mutilation in other countries. That's something local pediatrician Keith Dveirin says is just not the same.

"Female genital mutilation has been used in certain societies and cultures as a tool to subjugate women," Dr. Dveirin said. "There's no such comparison to male circumcision."

Dr. Dveirin performs the procedure both in his role as a pediatrician and as a Mohel in Tucson.

He spoke to KGUN 9 about the medial benefits of circumcision.

"There's a decrease in urinary tract infections in males who are circumcised," Dr. Dveirin said. "There's a decrease in certain sexually transmitted infections in males who are circumcised."

Let's check on those claims... Both John's Hopkins and the Mayo Clinic report men with circumcised penises see those medical benefits plus a decrease in penile cancer.

A report published 25 years ago by the National Institutes of Health found most circumcisions are made for cultural or religious reasons, rather than medical ones.

First, cultural:

"European men, Asian men, South American men have their whole penises," said Atkinson. " They have no trouble keeping clean or finding partners."

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Map showing rates of circumcision broken down by country

This map shows the Middle East and Northern Africa have the highest rates of circumcision. About 90% of the men in those countries had the procedure.

In the United States 71% of men are circumcised. For reference, 30% of Canadian Men are circumcised and in Europe that number hovers between 0 and 2%.

As for the religious aspect, both Muslims and Jewish people are all but required to get circumcised.

Muslim men generally get circumcised to help them easily wash for prayers, although it's not seen as an inherently holy act like in Judaism. Many majority Muslim countries wait until boys are around 7 years old to perform the surgery.

Jewish belief calls for the procedure on a boy's 8th day of life.

Rabbi Stephanie Aaron says the Bris, where circumcisions are performed in Jewish culture, is more celebratory than what you'd get at a hospital or clinic.

"We give the baby the baby's Hebrew name and the baby boy is officially welcomed into the covenant of the Jewish people and then a healing prayer is made and the Hebrew name is announced," Rabbi Aaron said.

But both the Rabbi and Dr. Dveirin say the medicine is all the same whether the procedure is performed at home or at a hospital.

"I do exactly the same circumcision in the hospital or the medical clinic as I do in the home with a Bris," Dr. Duverne said. "It's something that parents have the choice of whether they want to do a circumcision on their newborn sons and take into account the demonstrated medical benefits and consider the minor risks."

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Brooke Long is an executive producer for KGUN 9 by way of Wichita Falls, Texas where she worked at KFDX-TV. Brooke graduated from Midwestern State University in 2014 where she studied journalism and television production. Share your story ideas and important issues with Brooke by emailing brooke.long@kgun9.com or by connecting on Twitter.