In a surprising development in British and American medical history, circumcision became medicalized in the final decades of the 19th century. It was transformed from a ritual practice exclusive to Judaism into a medical procedure adopted by British and American physicians, and widely accepted by the entire population. Some physicians advocated it as a preventive for masturbation, as well as for numerous afflictions ranging from epilepsy and spastic paralysis to syphilis and cancer. A few claimed that Moses had been a great “sanitarian” who introduced ritual circumcision because he understood its medical value. Some Jewish American physicians called for better supervision of mohels, whom they accused of ignorance about aseptic surgical technique. A California physician named Peter Remondino published a book of flowery prose praising circumcision as a near-miraculous medical discovery; his book was widely read and cited.
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