Blog Update!
For those of you not following me on Facebook, as of the Summer of 2019 I've moved to Central WA, to a tiny mountain town of less than 1,000 people.

I will be covering my exploits here in the Cascades, as I try to further reduce my impact on the environment. With the same attitude, just at a higher altitude!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Circumcision ban

Here's something to discuss over Thanksgiving dinner...

San Francisco residents may vote on a measure on the ballot next year to ban circumcision, according to the Huffington Post. The initiative would make it a misdemeanor to circumcise, excise, cut or mutilate the genitals of all minors, and would not make exceptions for religious reasons.

A CDC researcher reported this year that only 32.5% of boys were circumcised in 2009 versus 56% in 2006.

What do you think? Is this a dying practice? If you have boys, did you have them circumcised and why?

Either way, should circumcision be illegal?


Unknown said...

I'm just glad I had two girls...

Robj98168 said...

Personally I feel that should be the decision of the parents. Period. I don't think a city should be deciding medical procedures for the population.

Anna @ Blue Dirt said...

We have boys and they were circumcised. Their father was, and I guess we never thought much about it. He is their example for peeing and personal care in that area. After having an emergency c-section, long recovery, and jaundice we were too worn out to consider religion and "baby cruelty" and decided to make them match daddy.

Unknown said...

Wow. That is very interesting. My husband is circumcised but we have no intention of circumcise our boys (if we have boys). We don't have religious reasons for doing it and I don't see any other good reason to do it. As a rule we don't do things just because "that's the way they're done".

Shari said...

It seems like it's a dying practice. Numbers keep going down. I don't think it's a medical procedure, I think it's cosmetic. We think it's horrific to circumcise girls but okay for boys.

I have a son and probably don't need to tell you the choice we made.

Anonymous said...

Why was it ever anyone's decision but the boy's?

Mutilation is mutilation. Period. If a boy decides to undergo a unnecessary and completely cosmetic procedure, he should be old enough to understand all ramifications. Not a vulnerable baby!

I am not against circumcision for an informed adult but it should be banned for little children.

Bitts said...

Circumcision should not be criminalized. It's unnecessary and IMO shoulnd't be done, but education is the key to spreading the word about it -- not making more invasive, usless, unenforcable laws.

Mama Mama Quite Contrary said...

Given how many Jews live in San Francisco, I am guessing this initiative will go over like a lead ballon.

My husband is Jewish and I am not but we are definitely of one mind on this issue. Under no circumstances would we circumcise our sons.

For people with strong religious convictions, I can understand why they do it. Personally, I don't think it is okay but I don't think it is up to the city or any other governmental body to legislate it. I don't think insurance companies should cover the cost of it either.

Danika said...

No, parent's shouldn't get to make this choice. Sorry. You shouldn't get to mutilate your child just because he's too young to remember. There is absolutely no medical reason for circumcision. None. Not at All. Even the medical community has come out against it. We need to start treating babies and children as people with rights, and they have a right not to be mutilated when there is no reason for it. If they want to do it themselves later, that is their choice, but no one should get to make that choice for them without their consent. Period. This is not a decision that can be undone. And, while there is no medical reason for doing it, there are TONS of negative effects of doing it.

What if this was little girls we were talking about? Because this happens in many cultures to girls for just as many stupid justifications. And the world is up in arms about it. But boys? Nope, it's ok to do it to them. Sorry, it's a double standard.

And, to have it done to your children without anesthesia and to leave the room because it's too painful for you? Shameful. If you're going to make that decision to have your child's most sensitive area cut without anesthesia, then you damn well better be in the room. Not only to share the pain of the experience, but also to comfort your son. If it's too painful for you to watch then how do you think it is for that poor little baby?

I don't think anyone should do it for religious reasons, either. But, I suppose I'd be willing to allow that exception. But sorry, the days of parental choice on this one should be over. And any medical professional that is still claiming there's medical need for it is obviously not current on the medical research.

Nature doesn't give us body parts we don't need and we need to quit pretending it does.

Micah said...

I agree with Danika. I have 2 boys, both intact.
Having their genitals mutilated is their choice to make, not mine.
I completely feel like we should criminalize it, those babies deserve protection and that is what the law is for.

Cynthia in Denver said...

NOT THE GOVERNMENT'S PLACE TO DETERMINE THIS ONE! Nor the voters! This belongs to the parents. Circumcision keeps things clean.

Crunchy Chicken said...

"Circumcision keeps things clean."

So does soap.

The Mom said...

The continuing meddling of the government in our affairs should raise more alarms here people. It isn't up to them whether we do something or not. This is the same government that wants to get rid of small farms and organic practices and makes raw milk illegal in many parts of the country.

However you feel about circumcision should not be the issue. We need to stop legislating how to go about life. For the record, my son was circumcised in a beautiful bris. I was in the room thank you very much and he didn't cry. In the hospital, they don't allow you to watch, no matter how much you may want to. But that's another story. No parent should do anything without fully researching and making an informed decision about anything. I'm sure most would not be happy if they made it illegal not to have all immunizations on the timetable of the pediatricians. Same thing in my book. We all make choices about what we do with our kids. What you do may make me angry, but it doesn't mean it should be illegal.

Angela said...

What Danika said. Just because a religion tells you it's okay to mutilate your children doesn't mean a civilized society should let you do it. Kids are people, not property, and they have rights, too -- or at least they should.

As for adults making choices about their own bodies, regulate it like we do any other body modification.

Bucky said...

Let's please all call this what it is. Genital mutilation. And the only person who has a right to mutilate their penis is the person who owns it.

Parents have no right to cut up their children for some sick religious or aesthetic or traditional reason.

To all the mothers out there who like the "look" or who are too damn lazy to was their infant's penis, I would suggest that if you want to start chopping up flesh, you start with your own clitoris before you decide that it is just an insignificant piece of flesh.

The genital mutilation of our children should be outlawed.

Anonymous said...

Wow! It's really tense here!

My husband had his circumcision done in his thirties. Yes, there can be a medical reason for it. The skin was drying up and would crack open and bleed during urination and arousal. Not pretty. Very painful. Given his age, they used stiches, which were also very painful and hurt if he walked too fast, etc. The scars look horrible, I think it's twenty something stiches around the head. Anyway, I did not want to circ our son but after hearing all his pain and that this runs in his family I relented.

There are two ways to circ. One is with a very sharp knife (razor) and the other is the very cruel way the hospitals do it with a clamp. I don't know the names of the procedures but there are you tube videos on it. The knife method is less painful and lasts about a minute. The hospital version lasts about ten minutes. I think it is very cruel.

We hired a Mohel, a rabbi to perform his covenant. We are relgiously Mennonite (think one step away from Amish) and the insurance didn't cover it. I wanted the least painful way for him. We did our research and actually had a tough time finding a Mohel that would circ a non-Jew. I was there the whole time. He was given a cotton ball soaked in wine to help dull his pain and immediately breastfed afterward. We did this on the traditional eighth day. This is when the clotting factor of blood peaks.

I won't say that I feel good about it. But I am at peace with our decision to save him future pain and to have done this the most humane way possible.


Unknown said...

We have an uncircumcised boy. Basically we felt that any unnecessary medical procedure would not happen in the birth and life of our children. If he decides he wants to be cut later in life, than it can be his decision. If we decide now than he gets no say in what happens to his body--hardly seems fair.

Round Belly said...

i have 5 boys, all uncircumcised. I looked at it from a "is there any reason to do this?"

and my husband said no. We had no religious reasons to do so and the "cleanliness" argument was pure bunk. So we didn't.

That being said, I wouldn't want to ban the practice from the Jews, but I think it shouldn't be routinely done.

Brad K. said...

If they ban female so-called "circumcision", I wonder how long it will be before the Muslims have the city council in court and subjected to protesters in the streets.

Probably someone objected to public funds going for circumcision or because they think it is a gay practice or something.

I cannot think that the city would get involved with something this personal, unless someone's hate bunny is jumping.

Lisa said...

I'm 100% against this terrible practice. It's illegal to circumcise girls but not boys? You are taking part of a child's sexual organ away without their permission, it's just wrong.

You also put the child at risk for major health issues (like the horror stories of the whole penis being cut off). I know at least two boys personally that have their circumcisions done wrong and will have lasting problems due to that fact.

Anonymous said...

We have 2 sons. One was born with female genitalia, so circumcision didn't come up. My second son was not circumcised, though 19 years ago when he was born, it was unusual not to. I was a Mothering magazine reader, which gave me the information I needed to make many counter-cultural decisions throughout my children's lives.

I'm really glad people are talking about this more. I think too many parents allow it to be done without having given it any thought, or because they want the son to look like the dad (which makes NO sense to me). But I don't think it should be legislated yet, especially without a religious exemption.
(I'm leaving this anonymously because I can't remember my Google log-in right now)

Vegetable Garden Cook said...

I had a baby boy, and I never even considered it an option. I was absolutely shocked to discover that every one of my friends had their kids circumcised. Yes, it is still very much practiced in the world.

Oh I shudder. Yuck. I think it's disgusting that people still think that this is anything but a horrific, barbaric procedure.

No it should not be left up to the parents. For the same reason all other forms of abuse aren't left up to the parents. Its wrong!

Carla said...

I agree with The Mom. Regardless of how you feel about circumcision, the bigger issue is whether the govt should have a say in the choices you make for your children, especially when there is research to support it. It is a personal decision, one that should be made after reviewing the research that is out there. Sadly, in the Midwest, it does not seem to be decreasing, and as an L&D nurse, I can tell you many, many parents know very litle about circ but still opt to do it.

I am also a grad student and just finished a paper about circ, so I can tell you there are medical reasons to do it, albiet the risks of contracting what circ decreases the risk for is very small. In most facilities, it is a sterile procedure performed with anesthesia, so not really barbaric in that sense.

And btw, by the 8th day, exclusively breastfed babies are still deficient in Vit K which promotes blood clotting. It is a religious tradition to wait until the 8th day, not a medical reason.

All that said, my oldest two sons are circed because I was very young when I had them and really had no clue that boys weren't circed. I know, dumb and naive. After reviewing the research with my husband, we chose to not circ our youngest son.

Regardless of how I feel personally, it is not my right to decide what you choose for your child.

Anon Amos said...

I don't really understand the comparisons to female genital mutilation. I mean, on a basic level the two are the same (surgical alternation of the genitals) but really the effects are quite different. When a woman is circumcised it results in an inability to enjoy sex, usually making it painful. The cultural basis is completely patriarchal, with the intent being to inhibit a woman's libido and her willingness/ability to be unfaithful, thereby binding her to one man and forcing her into celibacy and/or monogamy. Plus, the procedure is performed most often on girls around ages 7-10. We're talking formative psychological years here. Undergoing a procedure that painful, invasive, and intimate can cause some serious emotional scarring.
When a boy is circumcised, however:
-The procedure [most often] doesn't and isn’t intended to affect sexual response.
-The basis isn’t expressly unethical and may be either religious (which I believe should be allowed but limited to the most painless and "humane" methods) or cosmetic (which really, is not too terribly different from parents who get their kids' ears pierced. Mine are pierced and if I put anything in they instantly get infected. Sometimes they get infected just for the fun of it. Now I have useless, frequently painful holes in my ears. Thanks, Mom!).
-Boys have it done when they're infants, so there is almost no chance of psychological trauma even if the procedure does hurt. (*I'm not justifying the pain or the procedure I'm just questioning the comparison to FGM.*)
Like someone else said, I don’t think this is a government issue. The more "barbaric" methods could perhaps use some government regulations, but the procedure as a whole doesn't seem to be the sleeping demon that it's being made out to be. My husband very much prefers being cut and has had no health problems or complications related to it. There are much, MUCH worse things parents can legally do to their kids. I think some of those problems ought to be tackled first, then we can work on raising public awareness and intelligence when it comes to circumcision.
Also, I’m posting this anonymously because my husband is very modest and he wouldn’t like anyone knowing more than they absolutely have to about his penis. Especially on the internet.

anon amos said...

I don't really understand the comparisons to female genital mutilation. On a basic level the two are the same (surgical alternation of the genitals) but the effects and intentions are different. When a woman is circumcised it results in an inability to enjoy sex.The cultural basis is completely patriarchal, with the intent being to limit her libido and her willingness/ability to be unfaithful, thereby forcing her into celibacy and/or monogamy. Plus, the procedure is performed most often on girls around ages 7-10. Undergoing a procedure that painful, invasive, and intimate can cause some serious emotional scarring. We're talking formative psychological years here.
On the other hand, with circumcision:
-The procedure [most often] doesn't and isn’t intended to affect sexual response.
-The basis isn’t expressly unethical. It’s either religious (which I believe should be allowed but limited to the most "humane" methods) or cosmetic (which isn’t too terribly different from parents who get their kids' ears pierced. There can be complications even from that procedure too, I’m an example).
-Boys have it done when they're infants, so there is almost no chance of psychological trauma even if the procedure does hurt. (*NOTE: I'm not justifying the pain or the procedure I'm questioning the validity of the comparison to FGM.*)
Like someone else said, I don’t think this is a government issue. The more "barbaric" methods could perhaps use some government regulations, but the procedure as a whole doesn't seem to be the sleeping demon that it's being made out to be. My husband very much prefers being cut and has had no health problems or complications related to it. There are much, MUCH worse things parents can legally do to their kids. I think some of those problems ought to be tackled first, then we can work on raising public awareness and intelligence when it comes to circumcision.
Also, I’m posting this anonymously because my husband is very modest and he wouldn’t like anyone knowing more than they absolutely have to about his penis. Especially on the internet.

HubsWouldKillIfHeKnewI'mSayin'This! said...

Like other posters said, one, I don't believe it's the government's job to legislate moral choices, and two, I have no intentions to circ my (potential) children (although I do not come from a religious background that specifies anything regarding circumcision).

While in the military, I worked with a doctor who, with me assisting him, refused to anesthetize a 39 hour old boy before preforming his circumcision (using a clamp - inserted over the head, under the foreskin, cranked down, and sliced off with a scalpel while the boy is restrained in 4-point restraints and completely covered in a sterile drape, parents banned from the room, not allowed to nurse for an hour afterwards). I walked out before he was able to begin, taking the clamp with me. I threw such a fit, he eventually both anesthetized the boy, and allowed him to nurse immediately afterwards. I never was able to stomach being in the room during a circ. again.

On a more personal note... my husband's circ was botched when he was a newborn, I guess he asked his parents when he was younger, but they had no idea. I don't know what they cut off my husband, but he has both a scar and foreskin... One more reason our (potential) son(s) will still their foreskins when they become of age to modify their bodies without my signature.

Concrete Gardener said...

When I found out I was having a son, I wasn't sure what to do. My husband was circumcised, as a cultural norm (in Korea). The cultural norm was of cleanliness vs. not being quite as clean. And then there's the "looking like dad" side. So for much of the pregnancy, we were planning on circumcising our son.

Our midwives always just said "it's not more hygienic, it's a cultural decision" Hearing this brief statement again and again at appointments sunk in gradually. I was glad they didn't say anything like "it's cruel". I gave my husband much of the decision-making power on this one, but I asked that he do his research.

By the time Noah was born, we had come around and didn't want him to go through unnecessary pain those first days of his life. We just wanted to enjoy him!

I'm not sure this organic process would have been possible if a ban was in place. I'm also concerned that a ban condemns entire cultures that do circumcise, rather than just condemning the practice itself. Working with cultures that practice female circumcision (which is much, much different from male circumcision- it would be like removing a large portion of the penis), women say to me that hearing their genitals being called mutilated in the news (by outsiders) can feel unimaginably hurtful-- most women would like change to come from within the culture; a choice them and theirs make for their daughters. A choice that they WILL make, they could just do without their culture being labeled by a practice that they inherited.

That said, we could have made a decision to circumcise just because of our family backgrounds, so changing the "default option" would have been helpful. I'm very glad we didn't circumcise our son.

Carmen said...

Is circumcising girls and boys really the same thing? I thought the effects as an adult on a female are very different than the effects of an adult male? I don't know any circumcised females, so I can't say, but the circumcised males I know - not complaining.

Deoxy144 said...

My husband is circumcised, our son is not. I think 99.99% of the time it should not be done, and I think the culture is shifting. However, I would oppose a ban. There are enough people who feel that it is very important that they may seek out illegal circumcisions by less than qualified providers. Doctors may not all do circumcisions humanely, but at least they have clean tools.

Lets just work to get rid of this outdated practice by setting a good example, talking with our friends, and spreading the word in general, not through a ban.

Kimberly said...

I have two boys and did circumsise them. At that point in my life, I didn't even think about having options. I delivered a boy, they asked if I wanted him circumcised, and since their daddy was, we did it. I think education is more the answer than legislation, though. If I had been informed, I would have made a different choice for my sons.

Anonymous said...

I agree with all who've said circumcision is unnecessary and can be cruel, that children have rights to not be mutilated without their consent, etc.

I also agree with those who've said a ban would just be one more government intrusion into our lives. We don't need that.

Making a law banning circumcision isn't the best way to go about eliminating it. Rates are already going down due to education. Another, slightly indirect way to go about reducing rates would be to make it so insurance will not/cannot cover circumcision. If parents want this done to their baby, they should have to pay for it out of their own pocket.

Nic, SD said...

Not planning on kids, but... would we? NO.
Like many others, here, I think this is a mutilation/body modification issue, not a the-government-needs-to-stay-out-of-my-shit issue. I think it's a decision adult males need to make for themselves, and not something people should be allowed to do to their children (or any children) for a "look." Or even for tradition. I don't think that makes it OK.
I do realize that there are occasional medical reasons to do this, though, and as long as a law leaves room for that, I 100% support it.

Kerry said...

It should be illegal yes, just like female circumcision is.

As to the religious reasons, basic human rights like bodily integrity need to come before cultural rites.

If people think this should be a decision made by parents, turn it around and make the child a girl, do you think the parents should be able to perform genital mutilation on their daughters.

And here's the biggest issue to me, think about the amount of time and energy and money that goes into protecting children under three from choking on toys, on parts, by manufacterers, agencies and parents doing their own babyproofing across the nation. Statistically your child is more likely to DIE from circumcision than choking. That is a tragedy!

I have 4 boys and a girl, all whole just the way nature intended.

Jennie said...

It's considered mutilation when done to girls, I consider it mutilation when done to boys.

For those that argue we shouldn't mess with religions...
We tell Mormans they can't have polygamist marriages, the government doesn't recognize my pagan marriage, why not tell Jews that they can't mutilate their boys.
Maybe while we're legislating we can figure out how to stop the Catholic priests from buggering young lads. O_o oh well, probably not.

Greenpa said...

Well, YOU'RE wrong; and I can pass a law that will force you to do the RIGHT (my) thing.

I think this is a good time to increase societal friction, and various forms of paranoia; we're all too relaxed.

Yes, I am, and my two boys are, and nobody suffered or suffers; really, it's no biggie; but warfare is.

I have no problem with guidelines and recommendations, and default decisions- but outlawing really ancient religious practices is highly questionable. Motivations?

Unknown said...

Before we (my partner and I) knew that we were having a girl we had that whole discussion and what I said was that it was ultimately up to my decision as he was going to be the one showing our kiddo how everything worked.

He is circumcised but said it didn't matter to him that "they wouldn't match".

I guess in the whole whirl of being worried and obsessed with having the baby this didn't seem like a huge thing to worry about since there isn't any science pointing to the fact that circumcising is a better idea.

Kristi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Many people don't do a comparison here. My ex husband was not circumsized, it wasn't done to him because his parents were high up in the biology field at the time and knew that circumcision had no biological help to the child at all. So they didn't do it. I can tell you from personal experience that sexually, people that have not been cut have sex very differently and that people that are cut cannot feel as intensely as they could if they were not cut. This may be TMI for some people so I am leaving this Anonymous, however, there is a difference in the sexual feelings that men have with being cut.

Also, my God Brother chose to get cut in his late teens (he was unable to be cut when he was a newborn because he was premature). He says if he had to do it again, he wouldn't. It was terribly painful, was strictly cosmetic and is desensitized. However, he was glad that it was HIS decision to do it.

Also, when I was pregnant with my daughter (I didn't know what I was having at the time) the insurance company informed me that a circumcision would not be covered as it was considered cosmetic. That was perfectly fine with me, but my father even stated, well, I guess that means you're having a girl. I immediately retorted with, "why would I mutilate my child if it were a boy?". Look, it is ultimately a cosmetic decision, but stating that there are no complaints out there for men that have been cut is just not okay with me. There is a difference and mutilating a newborn when they have no rights, is just not okay. Allowing the skin to become callused over intentionally without any medical need is harmful to a child.

Anonymous said...

Uncut father, uncut husband, uncut son (30 years old).

No we don't have the right to perform painful, cosmetic surgery on non-consenting children.

Crunchy Chicken said...

I posted this over on the Facebook conversation we're having about this post, but wanted to put it here as well...

Generally, the male response goes like this: If he *is* circumcised he's usually fine with it (not knowing anything different) and may or may not want his children cut. If he *isn't* circumcised, generally he's very against having his children cut.

I find this to be an interesting psychological conclusion. Nobody, male or female, wants to believe that they are "less" than they could have been, so it's easy to think that it isn't a big deal. Especially when you are talking about a man's pride and joy.

That said, I have known several males who were very bitter about being circumcised. And, if it weren't a big deal, then why are there foreskin replacement products out there as well as innumerable sites and products claiming to help men "grow" back their foreskin?

EngineerChic said...

What about circumcising for health reasons? I know of at least one person who had it done later in life (9 yrs old) to stop recurring infections.

Overall I think it is a bad idea because it is a religious commandment for Jewish people. But I'm opposed to docking ears & tails on dogs for purely cosmetic reasons, so I'm sort of hypocritical on the whole thing.

EngineerChic said...

I should clarify - I think THE BAN is a bad thing because of the religious significance for the Jewish people.

Bucky said...

I don't get the argument about boys needing to "look like" their fathers.

Are people doing some sort of dancing penis vaudeville routine to entertain holiday guests so that it is important that the guys dicks all look alike?

If you are cut and your kid isn't, it is a very easy conversation to have.

As for people that "don't like the look" of a natural penis, I've got to ask why you are spending so much time looking at your child's genitalia? After a fairly early age, you shouldn't be seeing a lot of your son's junk.

Bucky said...


You wrote "outlawing really ancient religious practices is highly questionable." Really? Are you kidding me with that old canard? Honestly? We do nothing but outlaw ancient religious practices. Especially those that aren't Judaeo-Christian. But even there, come on. Have you read the Pentateuch? Try performing just a small fraction of those ancient Jewish practices and find out how fast your tuchus would be in jail.

I'm sorry, but the "ancient religious practice" ploy is just crap.

You ask about the motivation of those of us who think it should be illegal. My motivation? I think it should be illegal to harm children. And we outlaw all sorts of harmful things that parents and others do to children. I just think that infant genital mutilation is something harmful. I'm not so blinded by fealty to some "ancient religious practice" that I think that permanent ritual scarification of a child is acceptable.


koolchicken said...

I'm really not sure what I'll do, I'm in a tough spot. If I were able to make the choice on my own I would be against the procedure as I think it's cruel and not so very different from what's done to girls. But my BF also has a say and he wants it done. I know there are a lot of people who think there's no benifit from having it done but there can be.

My BF is a medical doctor and told me about the potential risks of skipping the procedure. He's seen men who needed done later in life and the healing process can be brutal. I think I don't want to do something to my child that would cause them pain, but by not doing it I could be just delaying that pain. I guess I just need to focus on the positivess. My BF being an MD can be there to supervise, and insist pain medication and sedation be used.

As for the goverment getting involved, I'm glad. I hope it makes people wake up. If we go to goverment funded healthcare I think we'll be seeing much more of this.

Hugh7 said...

To those who say you can't compare male and female genital cutting: certainly you can't compare a tribal custom in Africa with a surgical procedure in the US, but when you compare like with like, the differences vanish. Female circumcision (in the strict sense, removal of the clitoral hood) was legal until 1996, covered by Blue Cross Blue Shield until 1997, and in 1959 a doctor called Rathman invented a device to do it (images NSFW) that included a shield to protect the clitoris. It is as human rights issues that they are just the same. Earlier this year the AAP proposed to allow a token ritual nick of girls' genitals "much less extensive than male genital cutting" but the uproar made them back off. Why the double standard?

As for "making them match daddy"...

Unknown said...

There are reasons that men have to be circumcised but they're quite rare. Everyone has heard a horror story but really, how often is this happening? There are parts of the human body which cause trouble for many more people in adult hood than the foreskin, but we don't preemptively remove them. And really, if it were some inherent flaw in penis design it would probably not have lasted. Talk about maladaptive. It would definitely effect sexual selection.

Nicole said...

My son was not circumsized at birth, and after turning 4 ended up needing it for medical reasons. When I worked in day surgery I remember two 30-something men having a circumcision done. Not ideal to need it later in life, but percentages are in your favor if you don't have it.
However, it is another example of the government dictating what you 'should' be allowed to do. This might cause many people who, for religious reasons, really want their son to be circumcised to travel out of town - then ending up far away from the specialist should something go wrong.

Tara said...

My husband is circumcised. Our son is not. His question to those of you who feel that it's important for your sons to "match daddy" is what would you do if daddy didn't have arms? Sounds like a pretty ludicrous reason to remove a part of your child's body, doesn't it?

Kristijoy said...

Devil's advocate here, I have no kids and so no horse in the race as it were but, does that mean we should make FGM legal? It's also done for religious/cultural and hygene reasons. We (U.S. WASPY judeo-christian cultural we)may find them abhorrent but that dosn;t lessen the similarities to circing boys culturaly. If it were done in clean antiseptic environments where risk if infection or botched procedure and only lessened a girls chance of future pleasure just a little (like male circ), why not legal FGM?

This is purely for debate, I know that FGM in most of it's forms is horrific (I would never support it being legal here) and that most male children who are circed go on to live normal lives without too much lost from their sex/fertility ability(though someone up thread did bring up that circing lowers sensitivity of the glans quite a bit, that would be due to keritinization of a body part meant to be naturally lubed by smegma and covered up). The health benefit to most men in this country is small, as HIV is not rampant here, though it is the one benefit. As to UTIs if girls can keep it clean so can boys. We don't cut girls labia off to prevent those.

There has been a movement to allow 'ritualized' FGM doen by doctors to satisfy the cul;tural and religious need by pricking a girls clitors to draw blood but nothing more, and this is met with general outrage as it's still seen as unacceptable.

I am trying to figure out why it's ok for one sex and not the other, but I think not of the cultural mindset of understanding the need of either makes it very hard for me to support them.

I have issue with outlawing male circ in our culture simply because it's so ingrained I think it needs to fade out of fashion rather than be legislated. People will do it ANYWAYS as FGM and illegal abortions have proved. So I am not sure how this law is useful. Especially if you can hop on over to Oakland or San Jose to get it done.

sorry for the tl:dr but this is what came to my mind when reading this and I wanted to throw it out there.

Oldnovice said...

I was totally against circumcision (in accordance with the American Society of Pediatrics at the time (1982). I felt confident that my son would meet more like him as he grew older and didn't want to desensitize him for future sexual encounters. My feelings were: If it wasn't important, why is it there?

Anonymous said...

I am circumcised, and when my first child was born, the cavalier suggestion from the MD was "just however daddy has would be OK".

On the other hand, I had a chat with my own Dad (who happens to be a pediatrician). His position is "if I had known the risks back then, I would not have done this to you".

Yet, we seem to believe that this is a matter of *choice*, when it is not. We do not allow parent to pick which surgeries they fashion to set their kids subject to... but for some reason, circumcision is OK.

There may be genuine situations when circumcision is the right call. If the child develops a phimosis condition, and it cannot be successfully treated with topic steroids, then both circumcision and sinequiotomy are options. But in these case, there is a trade off of risks and benefits that the parents must evaluate in order to make a decision.

lisa said...

WOW! There are a lot of comments on here. I am going to have to set a chunk of time aside to read them.

I will say one thing after a quick skim--there appears to be a lot of condescension.

I'm not in favor of circumcision. Before we were "enlightened", when the first boy was born, we did what seemed common. Six years later we were a little smarter, and a bit more informed. Sure we had to think about how to explain to the boys why there is a difference. As some folks feel they'll have to do with father-son comparisons. But we thought it was right to Not circumcise. We would not, however, completely condemn people on someone's blog for "doing what other people do". There is information and there is force.

Enter the government. How come we think it's NOT okay for the government to tell us we can't get an abortion, but we think it IS okay for them to tell our neighbors they can't cut their kid's foreskin. They already tell me I can't get married (although, technically, I beat their deadline and am now in some weird marriage-limbo). I would like them to stop controlling my rights. (seriously, people are giving the most corrupt, NON enlightened people charge of their morals. How damn convoluted is That?)

Ellen said...

I don't think that people should be circumcised until they're old enough to decide, but I'd rather see that go away voluntarily. The numbers have been sharply decreasing over the years, which is a very positive trend. I'd hate to see a backlash towards circumcision because of criminalization.

Allie said...

I'm guessing this initiative isn't going to go too well. However, even if it passed, there'd end up being modifications made to it over 1st amendment violations.

Anonymous said...

I don't know about your family, but nobody in mine sits around the thanksgiving table comparing their penises.

lisa said...

I always feel sad for people who don't compare their penises at the Thanksgiving table. :/

Anonymous said...

I'm a nursing student, have seen it done numerous times and if they'd only let the parents watch it would go down to 1% I'm sure. It is barbaric.

Anonymous said...

This is idiotic.
This ought to be the parents' choice.

1) It is a religious practice for Jews.

2) While it may or may not contribute to cleanliness, there are plenty of studies that have linked it to a reduction in sexually transmitted diseases, like HIV.

3) What about those baby boys (who not infrequently) whose foreskin closes over the opening to their penis? Is it equally mutilation to remove the foreskin then? (obviously not, it's a medical procedure, but it is a great deal more painful the older the child is)

4) I am the mother of 3 boys, I've have been present for all their circumcisions,the plastibell procedure with anesthetic was no worse than any vaccination or infant blood draw they had. And frankly vaccines may be more dangerous.

5) removing the hood cover a girl's clitoris is completely different. It leads to a future of extremely painful sex among other things.

San Francisco's city government is way over the line.

lisa said...

Afer reading the annon comment at 7:49 I felt compelled to go find pictures. I mean, my youngest is uncirced--I've read all the stuff, but I'd never Seen it.

Well, beyond not being able to handle even seeing a baby get a shot, this baby Was (appeared to be) screaming his head off, although it was hard to tell because it was still shots. To add to the saddness was the fact that the baby was totally strapped down to the table. :(

Regardless, no government, much less a measly CITY government should be able to outlaw it. I mean, and even if they Did everyone would just go to the next town. whaddathey gonna do? Strip searches?

Anonymous said...

People certainly should be able to choose to alter their bodies for religious purposes (or any other reason). But, like tattoos, it should be reserved for adults.

Anonymous said...

"I think I don't want to do something to my child that would cause them pain, but by not doing it I could be just delaying that pain."

So, you would support allowing parents to decide to remove a girl's breast tissue at birth, if there is breast cancer in the family? Cuz, ya know, she MIGHT get cancer as an adult, and that would be inconvenient I am sure.

cpcable said...

We would never circumcise our son. I understand those who want to keep a high level of government intrusion out of our lives (and I generally agree) but a ban on circumcision of infants would seem to protect the rights of those infants, who are not able to give consent. Why do the rights of the parents to force sugery on their children trump the rights of that child to avoid unnecessary and cosmetic surgery? Would we condone nose jobs for infants? What if the parent thought it was really important and they wanted their little boy to have his daddy's nose? What if they were worried about their child being made fun of in the locker room for having a nose that was different from all the other boys? Circumcision is cosmetic surgery and it shouldn't be allowed on individuals, such as infants, who aren't capable of giving informed consent, in my opinion.

Lori said...

I have to say well said Danika, I agree 100% I had my son 15 years ago. Even back then when it was still common practice, I just had a gut feeling inside how terrible and wrong the whole procedure was. I am so glad I did not let family or medical persuasion talk me into it. I have never once had a problem with my sons cleanliness and he has never once had any infections. However, if he were to come to me and ask to have it done I would certainly support his decision. Because it would be *his* choice. I don't think its fair to force a cruel procedure on a beautiful newborn baby. It's unimaginable to me how a parent can do that to a defenseless child. I can't even stand to watch the video of one being done it makes me sick to my stomach.

nava said...

My sons are circumsized, for religious reasons. My first was circ'd by a doctor, and it was the most horrible experience of MY life. The second was done by a mohel; he slept through the whole thing, didn't even twitch.

Insurance does not cover this. I think that's enough of a deterent for people.

As for comparing male circumcision to female, PLEASE do your research. They are not even in the same league. Males MAY have slight loss in sensitivity, and as someone has pointed out there ARE medical reasons for it (not that they played into our decision). Also, it can be reversed, which is somewhat painful, but circumcision in an adult is actually dangerous, while with an infant it is (surprisingly!) low-risk.

Females (usually) have their clitoris removed and are stitched shut, making urination and menstruation a long painful process, increasing the occurrence of dangerous infection, and makes sex anything but pleasant. It can be somewhat reversed, but only to the extent that peeing will no longer take hours.

With boys it is a religious covenant; with girls it is to keep them from being 'unfaithful' by making sex wholly unappealing. There is a HUGE difference, and I am totally opposed to female 'circumcision', despite giving my boys brit milah.

Also, wth San Francisco? What is with all the random laws these days (i.e. no happy meal toys)? How about educating the public instead, and 'let' us make informed decisions.

Natalie said...

Some of my thoughts:

1) Jen (Anonymous) said:

"We have 2 sons. One was born with female genitalia, so circumcision didn't come up."

Jen, you are clearly awesome. My boyfriend is like this too.

2) Reiterating some comments above, male circumcision is nothing like female genital mutilation. A lot of people seem to think the two are comparable (foreskin removed on boys, therefore clitoral hood removed on girls). That is the least invasive type of female genital mutilation, but even with this type, there is intense pain when peeing, when having intercourse, and even when clothes rub against your genitalia (remember the clitoris has many more nerve endings than the head of a penis!) Most female genital mutilation is more invasive than this, and may involve: removal of the clitoris entirely, removal of part or all of the labia minor, removal of part or all of the walls of the labia major, stitching closed whatever is left open (leaving a small opening for menstrual blood and urine to escape). It is not the same as male circumcision, and "if we don't allow female circumcision, we shouldn't allow male circumcision" is NOT a valid argument. The Wikipedia article on the subject is pretty graphic.

3) My personal opinion? I wouldn't have my kids circumcised, because I would not personally feel comfortable making decisions about my kids' bodies FOR my kids, no matter their age. But I definitely wouldn't condemn other people from doing it -- it has a very long tradition, and while there is evidence that circumcision dampens both the male's and their partner's sexual pleasure, people have clearly done just fine, even being circumcised. In some areas of the world (though not the U.S.) hygiene may be a valid reason to circumcise, and I can understand the religious traditions too.

No matter my personal feelings though, I don't think it is right to mandate non-circumcision as a law. As someone pointed out, it seems to be a dying trend in America, and it is getting that way by way of education and example. Now, a law that mandates that new mothers be given more information about the pros and cons of circumcision before making their own decision. I'd back that in a heartbeat!

Anonymous said...

We chose to circumcise our son because my brother was not circumcised, and as an adult chose to circumcise himself due to intense discomfort.