LETTERS: Circumcision may be unwise for men: for women it is mutilation

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JOHN WARREN has been campaigning against circumcision. He quotes a loss of sensitivity and the work of three doctors who believe the foreskin plays an important role in the sexual act. Maimonedes, a Jewish physician of the 12th century, in his Guide of the Perplexed, writes: "As regards circumcision, I think that one of its objects is to limit sexual intercourse ... and thus cause man to be moderate ... circumcision simply counteracts excessive lust, for there is no doubt that it weakens the power of sexual excitement".

Jews (and I feel sure, Muslims) do not perform circumcision purely for hygienic reasons. The ideas quoted above form one strand. Maimonedes continues: "Another important objective [is] it gives all worshippers of the same faith a common bodily sign. No one should circumcise ... himself or his son for any other reason but pure faith; for circumcision is not a mere incision of the leg".

I am not surprised that Sir Donald Irvine when he passed Dr Warren's letter to five members of the General Medical Council received five contrasting replies. For, you see, Dr Warren, circumcision is not a mere incision of the leg.

Dr Maurice Super

Didsbury, Manchester