Online retail giant Amazon has been forced to pull an infant circumcision training kit, after groups expressed concern it could encourage dangerous DIY procedures.
The Life/Form Circumcision Trainer kits feature surgical scissors, scalpels, a lifelike practice dummy with prosthetic foreskin replacements and instructions, and were being sold on the UK version of the website for between £365 ($636) and £456 ($795).
The description accompanying the product boasts its “pliable, delicate, and realistic” feel, and says it’s designed so that “medical students, physicians, and other practitioners can learn, practice, and improve realistic, hands-on skills for this delicate procedure without the worry of learning on a live patient”.
According to The Independent, the product was removed this week by Amazon following multiple complaints from The National Secular Society.
“We fear that the sale of this product may encourage unqualified practitioners to carry out unnecessary surgery on infants in non-clinical conditions, resulting in serious harm,” chair of the NSS’s Secular Medical Forum, Dr Antony Lempert, wrote to the retailer.
“Non-therapeutic circumcision is unethical and unnecessary and is putting infant boys at risk of death and serious injury. This practice could be encouraged by the morally negligent sale of infant circumcision training kits to the public.”
Similar, less-expensive versions of the kit are still for sale on Amazon UK and US, although none are available for shipping to Australia.
Circumcision - the surgical removal of the foreskin of the penis - is currently performed on between 10 - 20 per cent of Australian and New Zealand infants.
Commonly practised for religious or cultural reasons, it remains a contentious topic. As The Royal Australian College of Physicians notes, "Ethical and human rights concerns have been raised regarding elective infant male circumcision because it is recognised that the foreskin has a functional role, the operation is non-therapeutic and the infant is unable to consent".
While recent research led by Dr Brian Morris, professor emeritus at the University of Sydney, found the benefits of the procedure exceed the risks by 200 to one, non-medical circumcision remains banned at Australian public hospitals.
Critics argue a minimal reduction in risk of penile cancer and HIV associated with it are not sufficient to warrant its routine implementation.