For years, the decision whether or not to circumcise a boy has been a private matter. Sometimes, religion gets involved, but when you come right down to it (ha!), the decision to circumcise or not is made by mom and dad.
Voters in San Francisco may soon take the decision out of parents' hands. According to the L.A. Times, a November referendum will seek to ban the procedure. Proponents of the ban -- self-described "intactivists" -- argue that male circumcision is the equivalent of female genital mutilation, which is outlawed in the United States. They also state that there's no convincing medical reason for circumcision, at least not here in the developed world.
Opponents of the ban, including rabbis and concerned parents, contend that the ban would infringe upon personal and religious freedom. They point to studies that note decreased HIV and HPV infection rates in circumcised men. And --somewhat desperately -- they note that "90% [of nurses surveyed on a geriatric unit ] were strongly in favor of circumcision because it was difficult to bathe uncircumcised men in their 90s."
Ok. My bias is going to show at this point.
I've been a nurse in a geriatric unit. I've bathed men in their 90s. I even assisted on a bedside-circumcision of a man in his 90s. (He needed the circ because his foreskin had adhered to his penis and would not allow the passage of a catheter, which was needed for medical reasons.) But to say we should base a medical decision affecting a baby on what might happen to in his 90s?? That's stretching things.
Circumcision rates have been dropping in this country. According to the CDC, 56% of baby boys were circumcised in 2006. In 2009, that number was only 32.5%. (Note: that statistic does not include circumcisions performed out of hospitals, such as a bris.) If the ban goes through in San Francisco, the number will be even lower.
Personally, I'm pretty clearly anti-circumcision. (Despite the fact that I wrote a blog post called 'Another Reason You Might Circumcise,' I clearly stated that even given the new research, I would refuse to have my sons circumcised.) As a homeschooler, though, I'm also anti-government intervention into families' lives. HOWEVER...it occurs to me that the circumcision ban isn't a matter of denying parents their rights as much as it is protecting a human who is unable to speak for himself.
What do you think of the proposed circumcision ban?