"Within Australia, infant male circumcision may be carried out for a number of reasons, including religious and cultural reasons, or for medical purposes." - Nicola Roxon, former Commonwealth Minister for Health and Ageing.
Exactly why any of the various State and Federal Health Departments remain involved with a non-medically indicated procedure is, frankly, beyond me. Their continued involvement is a testament to the enduring efforts of the pro-circumcision lobby to keep non-medically indicated infant circumcision viewed through a medical prism, despite the obvious absurdity of the notion.
Obviously, once scientific analysis cannot justify circumcision being carried out for medical reasons the whole idea of performing the surgery on infants is one for the Attorney's General and parliaments - not the health care fraternity.
The absurd notion runs deep, however, because The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, sent my letter to Ms Roxon, the then Minister for Health and Ageing for response rather than the Attorney General. Ms Roxon's reply, if you can call it that, is in the table below.
Although it took ten months to formulate, Ms Roxon's reply is utterly inadequate and addresses none of the issues raised in my letter to the Prime Minister. Ms Roxon's reply dwells exhaustively with the many and varied medical reasons that the pro-circumcision lobby claim to be addressed by circumcision whilst my letter dealt EXCLUSIVELY with non-medically indicated infant circumcision.
It's interesting, however, that the first of Ms Roxon's medical justifications is Phimosis. Phimosis was the justification stalwart of the pro-circumcision lobby for most of last century. Contemporary knowledge now tells us that the 'condition' is universally diagnosable in infants as nature deliberately attaches the foreskin to the glans at birth. As one American commentator observes, "circumcision has always been a cure looking for a disease...".
Ms Roxon needs to update her pro-circumcision material, as the new catch-cry of the zealots has moved to spurious and scientifically dismissed claims of HIV prevention.
What did Ms Roxon have to say about the issue of my lack of consent to my little boy's circumcision? NOTHING.
In all, Ms Roxon's letter to me is insulting, not only to me, but also to her, as it portrays her as being quite uninformed and simple. This is unfortunate given her obvious intellect.
Tanya Plibersek - current Minister
Ms Plibersek's view, unfortunately, simply echoes Ms Roxon's. As I've learnt, all letters are analysed with a view to wriggling out of having to provide any sort of concrete position. In conjunction with my questions regarding parental consent, I was foolish enough to mention the Family Law Act in my letter to the Minister. Ms Sally Goodspeed (replying on behalf of the Minister) has cleverly seized on the opportunity unintentionally provided by me to avoid passing any comment with regard to parental consent on the basis of interdepartmental responsibilities and jurisdictional delineation. Gorgeous logic, despite the fact that parental consent issues are routinely discussed within a multitude of governmental, regulatory and academic frameworks outside the Office of the Attorney General and the context of the Family Law Act.
One is left with an underlying admiration for the modern bureaucrat's ability to jump on any life raft to avoid providing a direct answer to ANY question.
If I reply to Ms Goodspeed, even in the event that I were able to grammatically couch a question in such a way that all ambiguity and wriggle opportunities were removed, she would probably provide me by return with a detailed analysis of how the space shuttle works.