This thesis analyses the narratives of 33 parents in the United States concerning their decisions to circumcise or leave their children intact, and five key informants consisting of medical professionals involved in obstetric and gynecological care and trained childbirth companions. The United States differs from other nations in the Global North due to its comparatively high rates of neonatal male circumcision, a procedure that is performed as a preventative surgery, rather than for cultural or religious indications. However, in recent years, rates of circumcision have begun to decline. This study sought to gain a nuanced understanding of these trends by examining the factors that influenced the parents in my sample. The results show that parents' circumcision decisions were affected by their evaluations of the procedure's medical risks and benefits and their considerations of the relationship between being circumcised, hygiene, and health. Also relevant to their decisions were concerns and expectations regarding their child's future sexual functioning and pleasure, as well as cultural assumptions about bodily autonomy and integrity. Interviews with five key informants, including medical providers and trained childbirth assistants, provide further context to findings regarding the sometimes-unequal power dynamics between providers and parents. The results of this study raise questions about the extent of informed consent for this procedure and shed light on the ways that parents are sometimes "selective" with the information they use to make decisions. Overall, the findings in this research offer valuable insights into the complexities of parents' decision-making processes and contribute to scholarship on the social and medical dimensions of circumcision.
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Master of Arts (M.A.)
College of Sciences
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Open Access)
Reeves, Karli, "To Cut or Not to Cut? Exploring Parental Decision-making about Neonatal Male Circumcision" (2021). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2020-. 1153.