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  #1  
Old March 9th, 2011, 2:26 pm
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Male Circumcision and Bodily Autonomy

A few days ago I was reading about a proposed ban on circumcisions for infant boys in San Francisco. It's not on the ballot yet but the proposed penalty is up to 1 year in jail and a $1000 dollar fine. It is unclear as to whether or not the doctor or the parents or both would be penalized. This ban would also include ritual circumcisions in religious ceremonies, Judaism being the most prominent. Last year a ban on infant circumcisions was put on the ballot in Massachussuetts although it had no sponsers and never passed committee.

There are alot of issues all wrapped up in this debate the primary one being that of bodily autonomy so I'll begin my questions there.

1. Do you think that circumcision is a a choice that should be made only by the man when he is old enough to give his consent?

2. Does any such ban on circumcision infringe on the rights of the parents to choose for their child?

3. Would a ban on religious circumcisions be considered an infringement of Freedom of Religion?

4. If you live outside the US is circumcision legislated? Why or why not?


General questions about circumcision:

1. Circumcision has been on the decline (although to what degree is unclear) in the US. Why do you think this is?

2. The general concensus is that a circumcision is not medically necessary although it does provide some health benefits.

3. Opponents of circumcision say that the procedure is nothing more than genital mutilation done out vanity and force of habit. Do you agree or disagree?


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  #2  
Old March 9th, 2011, 4:35 pm
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Re: Circumcision and Bodily Autonomy

1. Do you think that circumcision is a a choice that should be made only by the man when he is old enough to give his consent?
Yes. But mainly because circumcision isn't medically necessary, so.. as far as I am concerned there is no reason to chop of a boys foreskin other than the fact that it's deemed necessary by a certain culture.

2. Does any such ban on circumcision infringe on the rights of the parents to choose for their child?
I suppose so, but imo a childs rights trump that of the parents.

3. Would a ban on religious circumcisions be considered an infringement of Freedom of Religion?
Yes, but just like in question 2, I believe that the rights of the child trump that of religion.

4. If you live outside the US is circumcision legislated? Why or why not?
I don't really know. I don't believe it is, but circumcision isn't socially acceptable here. At least I don't know anyone who has been circumcised or had their child circumcised.

General questions about circumcision:

1. Circumcision has been on the decline (although to what degree is unclear) in the US. Why do you think this is?
Awareness I guess. People often socialize only with people like themselves. Thanks to the internet people's horizons broaden.

2. The general concensus is that a circumcision is not medically necessary although it does provide some health benefits.
I believe those health benefits are being questioned. Let's face it... circumcision barely exists in the biggest part of the western world, is there really such a big difference between our health and America's health? And do those differences really justify circumcision??

3. Opponents of circumcision say that the procedure is nothing more than genital mutilation done out vanity and force of habit. Do you agree or disagree?
I agree, even though it's less "bad" as female genital mutilation.


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  #3  
Old March 9th, 2011, 4:48 pm
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Re: Circumcision and Bodily Autonomy

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Originally Posted by Siriusandme View Post
Yes. But mainly because circumcision isn't medically necessary, so.. as far as I am concerned there is no reason to chop of a boys foreskin other than the fact that it's deemed necessary by a certain culture.
I like to differ. Circumcision can be medically necessary. For example in cases like phimosis, which causes the boy inconvenience and sometimes pain. It can result in an infection. There are other methods, but circumcision is one of them.

I agree with it for medical reasons, like above, but not for religious reasons.


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Old March 9th, 2011, 5:19 pm
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Re: Circumcision and Bodily Autonomy

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Originally Posted by Tenshi View Post
I like to differ. Circumcision can be medically necessary. For example in cases like phimosis, which causes the boy inconvenience and sometimes pain. It can result in an infection. There are other methods, but circumcision is one of them.

I agree with it for medical reasons, like above, but not for religious reasons.
You are right, for some children it is medically necessary, but for most children (I don't know the statistics) it just isn't. So just to be a bit more specific, only in cases where it is medically necessary. Otherwise... no.


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  #5  
Old March 9th, 2011, 5:32 pm
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Re: Circumcision and Bodily Autonomy

When our son was born (or rather before), my wife and I had a lot of discussion regarding circumcision. The research we did indicated that medically there are some benefits, such as less risk of infection. But those benefits are pretty small (for example, circumcised Marines returning from Guadacanal in WW2 had a lower rate of infection than uncircumcised, but that's not a situation that many men will find themselves in).

On the other hand, there's also some indications that uncircumcised sex is more enjoyable. So on net we decided to not circumcise. Our pediatrician did not encourage us to go either way, saying only that it was mostly done for cosmetic reasons.

My impression is that it is done mostly for traditional reasons: I suspect that circumcision became popular hundreds of years ago for religious reasons, out of respect for the Old Testament requirement for circumcision. And even though Christianity (and Judaism) is declining in the U.S. today, circumcision is still the traditional thing to do. My personal conclusion is that it's not a bad thing to do, but there is no compelling reason to do it.


  #6  
Old March 10th, 2011, 3:31 am
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Re: Male Circumcision and Bodily Autonomy

1. Do you think that circumcision is a a choice that should be made only by the man when he is old enough to give his consent?

Yes. I'm not comfortable with parents permanently altering their children's bodies unless it's medically necessary. It's a personal decision, and if a man wants to be circumcised, it's something he can seek out when he's old enough to want it.

2. Does any such ban on circumcision infringe on the rights of the parents to choose for their child?

That's a difficult thing. Parent's shouldn't have carte blanche freedom to do whatever they want to their kids. But at the same time, the decision whether or not to have an infant circumcised is something that a lot of people see as being fairly low consequence. I'm not sure.

3. Would a ban on religious circumcisions be considered an infringement of Freedom of Religion?


I have a lot of respect for Judaism, in particular. And I strongly believe in religious freedom. But I don't think religion should excuse traditions and actions that we would otherwise be uncomfortable with. And I think part of religious freedom is holding everyone to the same standards. Ultimately, the effect is the same regardless of whether or not the parents have religious motivations, and I'm not comfortable with religion being used as a motivation to alter a child's body without their consent. That said, I do have sympathy for parents who do want to circumcise for faith-based reasons.

1. Circumcision has been on the decline (although to what degree is unclear) in the US. Why do you think this is?

It's possible people are becoming more conscientious of letting the child make his own choice, or that people are more inclined to give the issue serious consideration and not do things "just because." I could be wrong on this, but I get the sense that it's becoming more and more common for parents to want to get second opinions on things and make their own decisions about childbirth and caring for their infants.

And also, trends just change.

2. The general concensus is that a circumcision is not medically necessary although it does provide some health benefits.

Apparently there are some demonstrated health benefits, such as less risk of contracting HIV. However, they're benefits, not guarantees. Millions of uncircumcised men do just fine, and I can't buy that circumcision trumps good hygiene and habits.

Ultimately, it still comes down to individual choice, just like a lot of things. Just because something has potential benefits doesn't mean it's the right choice for everyone.

3. Opponents of circumcision say that the procedure is nothing more than genital mutilation done out vanity and force of habit. Do you agree or disagree?

I agree. Though, I wouldn't compare it directly to some other forms of genital mutilation, since male circumcision generally does not cause medical harm or make a fulfilling sex life impossible.


  #7  
Old March 10th, 2011, 10:05 am
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Re: Male Circumcision and Bodily Autonomy

1. Do you think that circumcision is a a choice that should be made only by the man when he is old enough to give his consent?

Yes, I do. We have no such tradition here - almost nobody is circumcised, as a child or as an adult. I haven't heard about any problems, health-related or other, ensuing from that. I believe it's something a man should decide for himself, because it's his body. I believe the same thing about piercing someone's ears, incidentally.


  #8  
Old March 11th, 2011, 5:24 am
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Re: Male Circumcision and Bodily Autonomy

1. Do you think that circumcision is a a choice that should be made only by the man when he is old enough to give his consent?

Yes. There are certain things that parents are obliged to force on babies, because they have been shown to have a clear benefit both to the individual and to society (vaccinations for instance). From what I understand, the jury is still out as to the general benefits of circumcision. Because it is so unnecessary, I think it is something a man should decide for himself as an adult.

2. Does any such ban on circumcision infringe on the rights of the parents to choose for their child?

No, there are limits to parents' rights.

3. Would a ban on religious circumcisions be considered an infringement of Freedom of Religion?

There are many religious and cultural practices that are illegal in the US, i.e. polygamy, honor killings, female circumcision etc.. There are limits to every constitutional right.

1. Circumcision has been on the decline (although to what degree is unclear) in the US. Why do you think this is?

Probably because it is becoming increasingly clear that it is not medically necessary. Also, many circumcisions are done for religious reasons, and society is becoming increasingly secular.

2. The general concensus is that a circumcision is not medically necessary although it does provide some health benefits.

Which is why it should be up to the individual as to whether or not he wants to be circumcised.

3. Opponents of circumcision say that the procedure is nothing more than genital mutilation done out vanity and force of habit. Do you agree or disagree?

I don't know if I'd go so far as to say it is genital mutilation, I think that is too overblown a term. I do think it is an unnecessary procedure that an informed adult should decide for himself.


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  #9  
Old March 11th, 2011, 12:01 pm
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Re: Male Circumcision and Bodily Autonomy

1. Do you think that circumcision is a a choice that should be made only by the man when he is old enough to give his consent?

It's a tricky one, especially where religious groups are concerned. I seem to remember that the Old Testament says it has to be done when the child is very young (7 days old? I can't remember) and it does seem like a massive infringement on religious rights to ban it.

But, then again, is this any different than e.g. giving children who have been raised Jehovah's Witness blood transfusions against their parents' wishes if it will save their life or other cases where the State intervenes if the parents' religious views are not thought to be in the child's best interests?

As an aside, a distant family member by marriage converted to Judaism as an adult and said that circumcision is far more painful if you have it done then, which could be an argument for letting people circumcise their sons when they're babies (although, then again, maybe it hurts as much when you're a baby, but the baby can't tell you...).

I think that makes my answer a Don't Know.

Circumcising babies (except for religious or specific medical reasons) has never been common practice in the UK. I remember an American boyfriend about 20 years ago being amazed at this and arguing that the UK's custom was insanitary and weird, so it's quite odd that this debate is taking place in the US now. Times change.



Last edited by Melaszka; March 11th, 2011 at 12:04 pm.
  #10  
Old March 11th, 2011, 3:35 pm
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Re: Male Circumcision and Bodily Autonomy

Circumcision is not necessary unless a doctor says it is. A parent who has their child circumcised when it isn't medically necessary should be arrested, charged with genital mutilation, and the child taken away. There are no medical benefits to circumcision; boys just need to learn to clean it properly. Studies also show that sexual gratification is decreased among those who are circumcised. It's funny, really, that society finds female genital mutilation to be terrible, but it's perfectly acceptable when done to males.


  #11  
Old March 11th, 2011, 3:59 pm
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Re: Male Circumcision and Bodily Autonomy

Quote:
Originally Posted by NumberEight View Post
Circumcision is not necessary unless a doctor says it is. A parent who has their child circumcised when it isn't medically necessary should be arrested, charged with genital mutilation, and the child taken away. There are no medical benefits to circumcision; boys just need to learn to clean it properly. Studies also show that sexual gratification is decreased among those who are circumcised. It's funny, really, that society finds female genital mutilation to be terrible, but it's perfectly acceptable when done to males.
I don't think non-consensual circumcision is acceptable. However, female genital mutilation has far greater negative effects (like complete loss of ability to experience sexual pleasure, pain during intercourse for the rest of a woman's life and the like) and this is why it's condemned more.


  #12  
Old March 11th, 2011, 4:34 pm
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Re: Male Circumcision and Bodily Autonomy

Quote:
Originally Posted by NumberEight View Post
A parent who has their child circumcised when it isn't medically necessary should be arrested, charged with genital mutilation, and the child taken away.
Parents' rights trump your opinion.
Tell me you're not equating religious observance with child abuse...

Quote:
Originally Posted by NumberEight View Post
Studies also show that sexual gratification is decreased among those who are circumcised.
Risk Assessment
The link doesn't support your "studies" wherever and whatever those may have been..

In studies published in the past decade, the removal of the foreskin provided a 50% reduction in HIV transmission, a threefold reduction in human papillomavirus (HPV) infections in female partners of circumcised men (HPV can cause cervical cancer), and lower rates of syphilis and chlamydia, which causes sterility and is the main sexually transmitted disease among teenagers. Circumcised infants were also roughly 10 times less likely to suffer urinary tract infections and the high fevers associated with them. And circumcision virtually eliminates serious penile cancers, which invade about 1 in 100,000 uncircumcised men.

The evidence from Africa of circumcision’s potential role in AIDS prevention led the New York City Health Department in April to begin considering outreach programs to promote circumcision among gay adult men and drug addicts.

Some foes of circumcision claim that it diminishes sexual pleasure. That’s impossible to disprove, since a clipped boy will never know what it would have felt like to have a foreskin. But it seems bogus. Are two-thirds of us missing the joy of sex? I think not. Surveys of men circumcised as adults found no difference in their sex lives.

Schoen and others, such as Harvard medical anthropologist Daniel Halperin, PhD, say the evidence that circumcision prevents HIV transmission has been solid since the late 1980s.
But the medical community has been skeptical until recently, and the most convincing studies emerged after the AAP statement.

Early this year, three trials in which Kenyan and Ugandan men were randomly selected to receive circumcision were halted when it became clear that circumcision helped prevent transmission of HIV. Men who got it were about half as likely to get infected. “A 50% reduction is about the same as some vaccines,” says Schoen. Final vindication came in March of this year when the United Nations World Health Organization announced that male circumcision should be added to the list of interventions that can help prevent the disease.
It appears that circumcision helps fight AIDS because the foreskin is particularly susceptible to attack by HIV. It often develops cracks or tears that can be infected by viruses. And diseases such as syphilis and chancroid, a bacterial infection more common in uncircumcised men, can provide a gateway for HIV.




It seems the benefits outweigh whatever risks there might be.


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  #13  
Old March 11th, 2011, 6:50 pm
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Re: Male Circumcision and Bodily Autonomy

1. Do you think that circumcision is a a choice that should be made only by the man when he is old enough to give his consent?

Circumcision isn't exactly a choice in my religion/culture. It's done to every male on the seventh day of their birth. It's not something any parent has to make a 'decision' about.

2. Does any such ban on circumcision infringe on the rights of the parents to choose for their child?

Yes, I think so. Besides, if a parent is willing to make this choice for their child, then it's obvious that he doesn't mind the fact that the same choice has been made for him.

3. Would a ban on religious circumcisions be considered an infringement of Freedom of Religion?

Yes, because, from a believer's point of view, a religion isn't likely going to dictate something that would harm its followers, least of all defenseless children. If it doesn't benefit (which it does), then at least it doesn't hurt.

4. If you live outside the US is circumcision legislated? Why or why not?

Definitely legislated, mainly because of religion.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Siriusandme
I suppose so, but imo a childs rights trump that of the parents.

Yes, but just like in question 2, I believe that the rights of the child trump that of religion.
Quote:
Originally Posted by NumberEight
A parent who has their child circumcised when it isn't medically necessary should be arrested, charged with genital mutilation, and the child taken away.
May I ask why? It might not be 'medically necessary' but still it doesn't violate the child's rights. At least I don't see how so, as it doesn't harm them, (as far as I'm aware).

Quote:
Originally Posted by NumberEight
Studies also show that sexual gratification is decreased among those who are circumcised.
Maybe. But I don't see how higher 'sexual gratification' is more important / comes before better chances of prevention from horrible diseases, .


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Old March 11th, 2011, 8:03 pm
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Re: Male Circumcision and Bodily Autonomy

I'm confused. Why would they care to ban circumcision on infant boys? There has to be a reason they think it's bad enough to do to an infant that it deserves to be illegal. What is it?


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Old March 11th, 2011, 8:52 pm
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Re: Male Circumcision and Bodily Autonomy

Quote:
Originally Posted by bellatrix93 View Post
Maybe. But I don't see how higher 'sexual gratification' is more important / comes before better chances of prevention from horrible diseases, .
And you would have little chance of uterine cancer if your uterus were removed at birth. The chances of your getting that are (I am pretty sure, I did not check the stats) better than of a boy getting any of the diseases that cutting off his foreskin is claimed to be a preventive for. And for the foreskin removal, there is only claimed to be a moderate reduction in likelihood, not a complete preventive. Further, an honest person must be skeptical of the 'studies' pertaining to circumcision, as there have been studies for well over a century with twisted stats or deceptive procedures either designed to or with built-in unconscious bias involved to justify what many people have a very emotional attitude about.

Quote:
Originally Posted by leah49 View Post
I'm confused. Why would they care to ban circumcision on infant boys? There has to be a reason they think it's bad enough to do to an infant that it deserves to be illegal. What is it?
Generally, cutting off parts of other people's bodies is considered a bad thing. The foreskin is very rarely a problematic part of the body. There are much more effective preventives for the diseases the advocates claim cutting it away prevents. And in Christian theology, having a circumcision for other than acute medical reasons is considered a rejection of the new covenant in Jesus.


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  #16  
Old March 11th, 2011, 9:07 pm
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Re: Male Circumcision and Bodily Autonomy

No one bothers with links anymore...they just get in the way of having an not-so-well-informed opinion.

WebMd is obviously biased...(wha?)

Circumcision and the Uncircumsized no difference in the sack...

Oh wait, that's a science blog article..likely a biased site..

I know! I need to go to an atheist web site!


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  #17  
Old March 11th, 2011, 9:13 pm
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Re: Male Circumcision and Bodily Autonomy

Closing until people can remember that this isn't the USPD forum.


  #18  
Old March 12th, 2011, 3:26 pm
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Re: Male Circumcision and Bodily Autonomy

Reopening. Please don't forget Warning System: HOT ZONES.


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Old March 12th, 2011, 3:57 pm
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Re: Male Circumcision and Bodily Autonomy

Quote:
Originally Posted by Midnightsfire View Post
Parents' rights trump your opinion.
Tell me you're not equating religious observance with child abuse...
If that observance harms or infringes the child's rights it is.


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  #20  
Old March 13th, 2011, 7:19 am
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Re: Male Circumcision and Bodily Autonomy

Quote:
Originally Posted by Midnightsfire View Post
Parents' rights trump your opinion.
Tell me you're not equating religious observance with child abuse...
The two are hardly mutually exclusive. "Religious observance" is anything someone does in the name of practicing their faith. The fact that something is done in the name of religion doesn't make it above criticism.

Quote:
Originally Posted by leah49 View Post
I'm confused. Why would they care to ban circumcision on infant boys? There has to be a reason they think it's bad enough to do to an infant that it deserves to be illegal. What is it?
While making it illegal is a tricky thing, I'm not comfortable with parents making permanent, unnecessary changes to their children's bodies when the children are too young to have any sort of opinion on the matter. I think that's something to be discouraged, at least.


 
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