I did not write the article that is below. Since I’m on my iPhone sometimes I can’t get a good link to post of the article so I simply cut and paste.
Although these pictures are mine and not affiliated with the article
In November 2010, CBS News in San Francisco reported on a proposal to ban male circumcision, which may be included on a municipal ballot this fall. The measure, which would make it a misdemeanour to “circumcise, excise, cut or mutilate the genitals of a person under 18,” has catalyzed a debate about the legality of male circumcision among medical professionals, religious leaders and those opposed to ritual and medically-unnecessary circumcisions, also known as intactivists.
This is an issue that should also be debated in Canada, where about a third of infant boys are circumcised. Canada has no laws restricting male circumcision, despite recommendations from the Canadian Paediatric Society that the procedure not be routinely performed on infants. Ritual male circumcision, better described as genital mutilation, amounts to strapping down a child and cutting off his foreskin. This practice is an indefensible violation of individual rights, as the person being circumcised is too young to understand the procedure and thus cannot consent. Accordingly, the Canadian government should pass legislation to prevent parents, religious leaders and health-care professionals from performing and authorizing ritual circumcisions on children.
Perhaps the oldest justifications for male circumcision are religious superstitions rooted in the dogmas of Judaism and Islam. While today many religious traditions are not considered threatening to individual freedom, there could not possibly be a grosser violation of a child’s personal liberty than having parts of his genitals cut away in the name of a faith to which he cannot possibly have chosen to follow. We acknowledge this in the case of female genital mutilation, which is universally condemned despite its religious justifications, but we fail to apply the same logic in the case of male genital mutilation, which continues to enjoy widespread legitimacy.
There are several other justifications that parents give for having their sons cut. Perhaps the most common ones are appeals to aesthetic preference, derived from the Western tradition of routinely circumcising infant boys, which was standardized even among non-Jews in the 20th century as a means of discouraging masturbation. The prevalence of circumcision in some parts of Canada is also cited, as many parents fear that leaving their sons intact will subject them to teasing from their peers.
While parents’ intentions may be honourable, this demonstrates precisely why the practice should be outlawed. As long as the moral question of circumcision is left only in the hands of parents, their decision will be impacted by the choice of other parents to go through with the procedure. The ethics of routine circumcision is an important social question which involves everyone.
In recent years, research has shown that the procedure can reduce a man’s chances of contracting and spreading HIV. This discovery has added a new dimension to this debate, as advocates of circumcision can cite such findings to encourage the practice. While it appears that there may indeed be value in the procedure for lowering HIV transmission, there are far better ways of achieving this goal than routinely mutilating the genitals of children. Educating adolescents about sexual health and condom use before they become sexually active is a far better means of curbing the spread of HIV. Irresponsible sexual behaviour — not foreskin — is at fault for spreading sexually transmitted diseases.
These are all perfectly legitimate reasons for an adult man to choose to undergo a circumcision. The difference is that the procedure would not be imposed upon him before he understands what is being performed. The debate about whether or not circumcision is a worthwhile operation should involve those who can actually make a decision about their own circumcision status, not infants who have no say in the matter. Outlawing routine circumcisions would protect the liberty of children too young to make informed decisions about their own health, children who would otherwise be forced to live with the results of their parents’ choice for the rest of their lives. It is time to rid our society of the shameful practice of routine male genital mutilation and move on to a more enlightened state of affairs, where adults can make such decisions for themselves.
Jackson Doughart is a student of political science at the University of Prince Edward Island and a member of the Canadian Secular Alliance, an organization advocating church/state separation.