New Hampshire House Committee Considers Circumcision Bill

A bill pertaining to circumcision was heard in a New Hampshire house committee Tuesday. HB251 — FN is currently in the house Health, Human Services & Elderly Affairs committee, according to the New Hampshire government’s website.

The bill would eliminate Medicaid funding for newborn male circumcisions unless the procedure was deemed medically necessary. If passed, the law would go into effect on January 1, 2016. The bill was sponsored by Republican Keith Murphy, who feels that circumcision is potentially dangerous for newborn boys, according to NHPR in New Hampshire.

“One hundred and seventeen children a year, on average, die from circumcision complications. In fact it’s one of the leading causes of neonatal male deaths,” Murphy said, presenting the bill to the committee.

If passed, New Hampshire would join 18 other states where elective circumcisions are not covered by Medicaid, according to NHPR, which stated that the bill would save the state about $212,000 each year.

At the meeting, a rabbi stated that the bill’s passage would discriminate against low-income Jews. Planned Parenthood of Northern New England also opposed the bill.

In Florida, when Medicaid stopped funding routine infant circumcisions, Dr. Saleem Islam, an associate professor of pediatric surgery, said the costs of circumcision, if needed later, amount to a great deal more than if the male is circumcised at birth, because at birth the males do not need to undergo general anesthesia.

“The benefits are that the child does not have to undergo general anesthesia, there is much less cost to public monies, it’s safer for the kids to get it done and that’s the right age, as well.”

According to a University of Florida news release, circumcising older males “requires general anesthesia to ensure the patient remains still during the procedure.” At birth, U.S. infant boys are strapped down with restraints in medical settings.

The American Academy of Pediatrics updated its statement on circumcision to state that circumcision offers health benefits, but that the health benefits are not so great as to warrant recommending routine infant circumcision.

“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, however, existing scientific evidence is not sufficient to recommend routine circumcision. Therefore, because the procedure is not essential to a child’s current well-being, we recommend that the decision to circumcise is one best made by parents in consultation with their pediatrician, taking into account what is in the best interests of the child, including medical, religious, cultural, and ethnic traditions.”

Recently, new research linked the procedure with risks of autism, according to a previous Inquisitr report.

In 2010, Medicaid paid for nearly 30 percent of all babies born in New Hampshire including circumcision costs, according to the journal Women’s Health Issues.