Circumcision Debate Pits Science Vs. Religion

Nov 26, 2008
Sally Thorner

BALTIMORE (WJZ) ― A circumcision debate is pitting science against religion.

It’s the same basic procedure whether it’s done in the hospital or the home. But as Sally Thorner explains, there is one major difference.

Two babies–both newborn boys–are having very different experiences. Like 70% of males, they are circumcised, but their response is pitting science against religion. What’s up for debate is the management of pain during their surgeries.

“The moment that we are waiting for,” said Rabbi Moshe Rappaport. “It might be a little uncomfortable, and at the same time, it might be very magical.”

In the Jewish religion, a Mohel performs the ritual circumcision, called a bris. Rabbi Rappaport minimizes the baby’s pain with a numbing solution and wine for the baby to suck on.

“There’s something right when the baby has a natural reaction to a bris and cries for a short time,” he said.

While the ritual circumcision typically happens in the home when the baby is eight days old, the medical circumcision happens in a hospital soon after the baby is born.

A baby in the hospital is given Tylenol and sucks on sugar water. The big difference is they receive an injection to numb the entire area.

“It’s inconceivable to me that there are even questions about this anymore,” said Dr. Myron Yaster.

Dr. Yaster is a pediatric anesthesiologist and an Orthodox Jew. As a physician, Yaster’s views on babies and pain trump his religious beliefs. More…