Commentary: Neonatal Circumcision in America


Given 06-Jun-20; 12 minutes

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The prevalence and demographic distribution of neonatal circumcision in America make the United States stand-out among other Israelite nations. Prevalence of American circumcision—a snap-shot figure reflecting the total number of circumcised individuals at a moment of time—is about 75%, a figure surpassed only by the State of Israel. However, the incidence of circumcision—the ratio of boys neonatally circumcised to those left intact at birth, took a nose-dive in 2007, plummeting from a rate of 56% in 2007 to 30% in 2009. Only 33% of the Millennials believe that circumcision is useful, compared to 66% of the previous generation, Generation X. Regionalism plays a significant role in the distribution of the incidence of American neonatal circumcision. The four distinct regions are 1.) The Midwest, with the highest rate (76%); 2.) the South (64%); 3.) the Northeast (56%) and 4.) the West (30%). Inexplicably, the high rate of mobility Americans have consistently demonstrated since World War II has failed to homogenize the prevalence of neonatal circumcision across the nation.



In late March, I used the topic of neonatal circumcision in New Zealand to point out the tremendous power totalitarian governments exercise ever so clandestinely over their peoples. I pointed out how, in spite of the people’s strong religious belief that circumcising a boy at birth paid both social and moral benefits, the government’s surreptitiously-executed policy regarding circumcision lowered the nation’s circumcision rate from 95% of newborn boys to just 0.3% of newborn boys in about 50 years.

I closed by mentioning that America’s experience was somewhat different. A review of circumcision trends and patterns in the United States leads to some interesting observations and, brethren, generates some really arresting questions.

Compared to other Israelite nations, the prevalence of circumcision in America is exceptionally high, about 75%. The only Israelite nation with a higher prevalence is the State of Israel, at 90%. Remember, prevalence is a snap-shot figure, indicating as a percentage the ratio of circumcised males of any age to uncircumcised males of any age as of a particular moment in time.

It may be useful to compare America’s 75% with those of other Israelite nations. Seventy-five percent is indeed high compared to the much lower figures in

  • Canada (32%)
  • Australia (30%)
  • France (14%)
  • Finland (2-4%)
  • Denmark (1.6%, the lowest rate in Israelite Europe)
  • New Zealand (0.3%).

In fact, the American prevalence rate is probably somewhat above 75%. Take the California figure, 23%, as an example. Living in California are many Asians and Latinos, non-Israelites who, for the most part, do not practice circumcision. Factoring them out of the equation because they are non-Israelite, the prevalence rate for Israelites living in California would be above 23%. The same is true for the US in general, but I do not have any figures.

That said, neonatal circumcision rates in this country have fallen dramatically and drastically, almost incredibly fast, in the last decade or so.

One study finds the Millennials in particular are really down on neonatal circumcision, citing that only 33% of adults aged 18 to 29 believe that boys should routinely receive circumcision, while almost 66% of adults above the age of 65 advocate routine neonatal circumcision.

Another study points to a precipitous decline in the incidence of neonatal circumcision after 2007: The incidence fell from 56% in 2007 to only 30% in 2009, only two years later. Now, remember, that is incidence, not prevalence. There is a difference. Unlike prevalence, incidence is not a snapshot at a moment of time. Rather, in this context, incidence refers to a count of circumcisions in the course of a year. In other words, 5.6 out of every 10 newborn boys experienced circumcision in 2007, compared to only 3 out of 10 boys in 2009.

That fall from 56 to 30%—26 percentage points—represents an average decrease of 13 percentage points per year, which is truly dismaying. Indeed, it is almost as though someone pulled the circumcision plug in about 2007. When you see numbers like that, you have to ask the question, “What happened?” Frankly, brethren, I do not know what happened. What I do know is that, to date, some 18 states have defunded neonatal circumcision through Medicaid. The highly liberal state of California started that trend in 1982. About 8 of those 18 states defunded this procedure between 2002 and 2007. I suspect that, in all these numbers, we are witnessing the glimmers of a war being waged against neonatal circumcision by elitist bureaucrats working in our healthcare industry, the government and the insurance companies.

Now, while we are talking about incidence (again, incidence is a count of circumcisions taking place during a particular span of time) let us focus on another really interesting phenomenon—this one also seen almost exclusively in America, of all the Israelitish nations. That phenomenon is this: Incidence figures vary significantly in different regions within the United States.

  1. In the Midwest, that incidence averages just over 76%. (These are 2009 figures.) This is the highest regional figure in the United States. This is the area from the southern border of Missouri to the Canadian border, including Wyoming, (but not Montana), Kansas, Nebraska, North and South Dakota, all the way east to Indiana and Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia and up to Pennsylvania.
  2. In the Northeast, the same metric registers 64.5%, almost 12 percentage points below the 76% rate in the Midwest. This includes the area to the north and east of Pennsylvania. It is the smallest region geographically, but the one with the greatest population density.
  3. In the South, the incidence rate is 56.3%, almost 20 percentage points below the rate in the Midwest, 76%. This area includes the states of Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee and North Carolina, and states to their south.
  4. In the West, it is about 30%, the lowest region in the country in terms of circumcision, virtually less than half of the rate in the other regions. This area includes Montana, Colorado and New Mexico, along with all states to their west (including Alaska). It does not include Wyoming, which is a statistical outlier. (Wyoming has a rate more typical of the Midwestern region.)

It appears (at least to me) that the sovereign God, who controls where people live, is “bundling” those who practice infant circumcision into one region of the country—the Midwest, basically; a large region, and is “bundling” those who are most unlikely to practice it into other areas. This is a phenomenon which is not obvious in any other Israelitish nations, like Canada or Australia. There is nothing like it in those nations. Why? That is an interesting question, one to which I have no answer. The phenomenon seems so counter-intuitive.

For instance, consider the high mobility of Americans. Especially since World War II, we migrate all over the country practically at the drop of a hat, for example, to find a better job. As far as I know, the matter of circumcision is never a consciously considered determinate as to the location to which Americans relocate. Have any of you ever heard a person tell you that he refuses to move from Kentucky to Nevada because Kentucky enjoys a circumcision incidence of 86%, while Nevada suffers under an incidence of only 10%? Those are the figures, but I doubt if you have ever heard a statement like that at all. Circumcision seldom—maybe never—plays a part in one’s decision as to where to relocate. It is just not in our thinking. Yet, circumcision statistics indicate large regional differences in the nation—and the differences seem to be growing. With all the mobility over the last 75 years, we would expect the figures to smooth out over time as the mobility would homogenize the nation. That seems not to be happening.

Why all this salient regionalism in terms of circumcision? We are left only to join others in their speculations, so I will speculate here, just for a few moments. Some conjecture that the United States is on the cusp of experiencing another civil war; others focus on the secession movements in more than a few states. In today’s highly charged political environment, characterized as it is by factionalism and regionalism, it is fair to ask if a break-up of the nation into regional subsets is in the wings. If so, will the boundaries of those yet-to-be-formed geopolitical subsets align with the four general divisions of the incidence of circumcision, that is, Midwest, Northeast, South and West? In other words, in God’s view, is circumcision—even when it is a mere shadow of the covenant-based sign God gave Abraham on the 8th day—a geopolitical determinant? That seems so foreign to us, because we do not even think about circumcision that way. But when you look at figures like these, you wonder if God does. Does He? Well, we are left to wonder, and it remains to be seen.