National and local media today widely circulated the news that San Francisco will have the opportunity in November to vote whether the circumcision of males under age 18 can remain legal.  Passage of it would block doctors from cutting  foreskins from helpless, defenseless, unconsenting baby boys, toddlers, or any male minors.  Voters will essentially be asked whether they believe a minor has the right to self-determination of his body and all its parts.  Do grown-ups really have the right to order a healthy, normal, natural structure to be permanently cut off — no matter what pretext the adult uses to try to justify it?

So the debate begins. It will be robust.  The Jewish community is the first to howl foul. And families where circumcision has been a tradition are offended.  While I would be delighted to see voters approve it and see males protected from genital cutting  just as females are in the U.S., the realist in me tells me that most people lack the sense of  social justice and ethics to see beyond the tyranny of tradition and they lack the compassion to come down on the side of the child.   Opponents say that even if it passed, it would be litigated on grounds of First Amendment freedom of religion (i.e., Jews consider it integral to their faith, even though Judaism has a long history of discarding harsh and cruel practices).

Too many parents and would-be parents will get their dander up, claiming such a law undermines their rights to parenting.  They will repeatedly say that they can do what they darn well please with their children because they have the children’s welfare in mind.  Trouble is they don’t have carte blanche right to do as they want with children.  And just because circumcision has a long history, it doesn’t make it exempt from the list of abuses.

Sadly social movements — even when the injustice is so self-apparent — have to endure long waits to get traction.   Conservatives wanting to preserve the status quo are slow in understanding rights and gaining enlightenment.  We know about slavery, marginalization of women, child labor, seven-day workweeks, pollution, etc.  Even when the injustices have been exposed and there can be no doubt of the wrongness, whole blocs of people didn’t yield without a fight.

Even if this measure loses in November, the accompanying debate will surely save a lot more baby boys from genital cutting because some parents and guardians will have been informed for the first time of the perversion that is circumcision, how it is a de facto form of sexual assault and that it has no endorsement of medical societies around the world.  All too many parents don’t question circumcision and almost think it is standard operating procedure when a male is born in a family. That mindlessness must end.

If it loses this time, a ban on circumcision will come in time through lawsuits, greater education, shaming the $1 billion circumcision industry and greater media attention to those babies who die from circumcisions gone very wrong.   That females are protected from having parts of their genitalia cut off in America, but males are not protected,  is a blatant double standard and evidence there is not equal treatment under the law.    A few more big lawsuits against doctors and hospitals will help.  

The reality is that the foreskin belongs there as part of male genitalia.  Long human history shows that  males have survived and flourished with foreskins. That debunks the fear-mongers who try to make a case that the structure is unhealthy.  Intact America is one of numerous groups that are working to educate Americans at the same time the circumcisers ramp up their marketing of baby-cutting.

May the forces to end circumcision be able to mount their case in the fierce that is inevitable in San Francisco. Certainly, the medical industry and Jewish community will have the resources to try to perpetuate baby cutting.  We have already gotten 18 states to end Medicaid coverage of circumcision because states don’t want to pay for such cosmetic surgeries that are unnecessary and  lack formal support of medical groups.

Look for other communities to seek their own elections.  Our hope is that parents come to their senses and recognize the body rights of their sons to be whole, complete and fully sexually functional.

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