Male Circumcision Ban on Ballots

So apparently San Francisco is putting a law that would ban male circumcision on the ballot for November (and aparently Santa Monica is trying to do the same).

I’m sympathetic though I’m not sure that this really needs a ban. It’s pretty extreme to cut pieces of your child off, without firm medical reasons, before they have a say in the matter. It’s an interesting discussion which extends far beyond just the details of circumcision itself (which were previously discussed here … but I didn’t want to bump that in EE). It brings out some interesting conflicts between religion and what rights a person should have about their body before they are old enough to make those decisions themselves.

If there were no religious angle whatsoever, I think it seems clear that we would not perform circumcision. It seems presumptuous to call this a religious freedom when you’re performing an act on a person who may well choose not to accept the religion of their parents.


It’s pretty extreme to cut pieces of your child off

pretty extremely awesome you mean

without firm medical reasons

Therein lies the rub. And by rub I mean foreskin. There are medical studies that support higher risk of AIDS, STDs, infection, etc with foreskins. Now, I would never argue that these are urgent and dangerous results like, say, refusing to have your children vaccinated which should be a friggin’ crime.

But there are medical reasons, whether they are “firm” or not is a matter of interpretation:

I think, too, that there are a bunch of things we do to modify ourselves and our bodies, and our babies’ bodies, from birth. The foreskin seems a rather trivial matter to me, and I don’t see much harm in letting it continue to be the choice of the parents.

I’m aware of the AIDS/HIV angle but honestly I discounted it as far from sufficient. There’s a chance you could save lives by pre-removing appendixes from children but I don’t see an argument for doing that. I might be wrong, but I think it’s clear that we would never have considered medical reasons for circumcision had their not been a previous religious reason.

It’s not like your toddler is going to start having sex before they have a chance to make a real decision cutting off a piece of their dick for a slight decrease in AIDS/HIV risk. If AIDS/HIV is the reason that you’re touting this: wait for your kid to have at least some ability to speak for themselves. The key info in what you posted seems to be this:

The AAP recommends that parents evaluate unbiased information on the subject and decide what is best for the child. While they recognize that there are studies indicating potential medical benefit, those benefits are not sufficient to recommend routine neonatal circumcision.

That is: the benefits alone don’t justify routinely performing the procedure.

Much happier to have had my foreskin lopped off as a baby, because I’d be too much of a pussy to do it to myself as an adult. Thanks, mom.

Why would you do it as an adult?

Good on them, I hope it passes. I see no reason to perform circumcisions before the person is capable for making up his own mind. The studies on AIDS/HIV have been done (unless something has changed) in areas of few resources with a full-scale epidemic going on, so that doesn’t seem like that great an argument to me.

I figure cosmetic reasons in addition to health and hygiene since some women find it unattractive.

Not just women :P

It’s not like your toddler is going to start having sex before they have a chance to make a real decision cutting off a piece of their dick for a slight decrease in AIDS/HIV risk.

I think it makes more sense to do it on day 2 rather than day 3,650 – nobody remembers the first two years of their life, so it is effectively painless if done early. I’d also argue it’s a really minor procedure; I watched it happen on our son and it didn’t bother me in the slightest. At worst he looked mildly discomforted for a few minutes. It was fast and utterly routine.

Is it strictly necessary? Probably not. But it’s hardly a life threatening surgery, compared to all the other risks and traumas, of y’know, being ejected out of a vagina.

Excellent comment.

I agree. The notion that retaining the foreskin is associated with HIV infection sounds preposterous. Link to these medical studies please?

Removing the choice for a parent to decide if his child should have a circumcision early on is ridonkulous. Who comes up with these ideas? People like Congressman Weiner?

No probably about it, the hundreds of millions (billions probably) of uncircumcised males living without any sort of problem are a subtle clue that it isn’t ‘necessary’ :P

I’m sure the surgery is minor, relatively speaking, it’s more a question of principle. Why lop off a piece of a child’s penis without a pressing reason?

As these are all diseases of adulthood wouldn’t it make sense to allow adults to make that choice?

Good question.

But there are also studies that suggest circumcision reduces sexual pleasure. Shouldn’t an adult make the choice that they want this operation?

If it could be shown that lopping off a chunk of an infant’s tongue could reduce the risk of alcoholism later in life, would you support people performing that operation too?

So timely! I know of a podcast where you could be a star.

The man in the sky says you should or your children will be bad and they will go to a bad place when they die and so will you!

There is no need to wait until they are old enough to make their own choices about faith - the man in the sky doesn’t like that either.

Also, it is easier to simply go with the herd and avoid needless confrontation with fellow sky-man followers and just get it done. I mean, when the choice is hurting your baby or having akward conversations, the choice is obvious!

Is this, I don’t even…?

Since when did ~30% become a majority?

EDIT: eh, post I replied to disappeared. Anyway yea Calistas, it’s quite astonishing the things people will do to their own children because they think their religion requires it. What parent on earth would, for example, mutilate their daughter’s genitals if they didn’t have a religious reason to do so? Thankfully male circumcision isn’t nearly as bad physically, but in principle it’s hard to see why it would be done.

Well, for one thing, the girlfriend/wife/whatever is extremely anti-religion, comes from a culture that does not circumcise infants (although it isn’t uncommon among older men there due to health issues with the foreskin), and yet she was the one who wanted our son circumcised; ergo, “If there were no religious angle whatsoever, I think it seems clear that we would not perform circumcision” seems to me to be not at all true. It might be less frequent among infants.

Out of genuine interest, do you know why she wanted it done?