The circumcision decision should be left to parents
posted by: gretchen
I have six sons. Circumcision has come up in conversation more than once.
I’m not going to share with the world if they are circumcised. The only thing I will say about the condition of their bodies is they are not all the same, nor do they need to be.
Foreskins are not Christmas sweaters. Matching is not an issue to us.
We made our decisions based on research, consultation with their pediatrician, and our personal feelings. We do not have any religious beliefs that compel us to circumcise our boys, so faith and tradition were never part of the decision-making process.
I am grateful we live in a time and place where we have the right to decide how to care for our children’s bodies. From the food we feed them to choosing the doctor who peers into their ears, how we care for the health and well-being of our brood is our decision. That’s how it should be.
There is a ballot measure in San Francisco which seeks to ban the circumcision of males under the age of 18. To me, this smacks of over-reaching concern. I understand there are individuals and groups committed to decreasing and eliminating circumcision. They have the right to hold these beliefs and pursue them passionately. They do not have the right, however, to take away the parental right to make a valid medical choice for a child—and there are medically compelling reasons for circumcision.
One of our boys falls into this category. He was born with a birth defect which required surgery at the age of 10 months. Part of the surgery entailed circumcision. It enabled him to be able to function normally at the time and in his future adult life.
Proponents of the measure argue that circumcision is purely cosmetic at best, brutally cruel at worst. Parents shouldn’t be able to alter a perfectly normal, functioning body part. Does their crusade extend to minor alterations like ear piercing? Many baby girls have their ears pierced during infancy, before they can consent to the procedure. Their earlobes are permanently altered. It’s not a giant leap to disallow parents from making other decisions regarding their children’s bodies.
Additionally, the ballot measure would take away the right for religions to practice according to their doctrines. Both Judaism and Islam teach the importance of circumcision. There is no religious exemption in the proposed law. This can’t be constitutional. Of course, religions can’t perform rites or rituals that harm or kill. Circumcision certainly doesn’t fit under this umbrella. It’s been performed billions of times safely.
If anti-circumcision activists want to stop the practice, perhaps they should focus on parental education. They should seek to change societal norms so that parents of baby boys will be aware of all their options. Some parents may not know it isn’t mandatory or may feel that every other boy is circumcised so they’ll go along with the perceived norm.
The failure of these activists to spread their message should not be reason for them to criminalize loving parents who only want the best for their sons. When all else fails, impose hefty fines and jail time? Yeah, that’ll teach ’em!
I’m sure anti-circ activists would be horrified if the government decided to require every baby boy to be circumcised. They’d be the first in line to decry this overreach of government control into the lives of citizens.
Parents make choices for their children every moment of every day. Circumcision is one of these choices that should remain firmly in our hands.
You don’t have to like a choice to understand the importance of maintaining the right to choose.