San Francisco Wants to Ban Circumcision

It looks like San Francisco is once again telling people how they should and should not parent their children.  This time the issue revolves around the good ol’ penis.  Quite literally.  It appears that there very well may be the option to ban circumcision on next year’s November ballot.  The bill will need 7,000 signatures before it can …

… be placed on next year’s ballot, and tt’s being rumored that the 7,000 names will be an absolute breeze to obtain.  If passed, it will become a misdemeanor for a parent to circumcise their child and no exceptions will be made for religious reasons:

“The decision to permanently remove a boy’s foreskin should not be made by parents,” says Lloyd Shofield, the proposal’s author.

“People can practice whatever religion they want, but your religious practice ends with someone else’s body,” Schofield said “It’s a man’s body and…his body doesn’t belong to his culture, his government, his religion or even his parents. It’s his decision

I have two boys, neither of whom are cut.  I don’t believe in circumcision.  I see it (with the exception of when it is done for religious beliefs) as a cosmetic surgery that most people put their infants through so that they can look like daddy or the other kids in the locker room.  Between my friends with boys, it’s mostly split when it comes to circumcision.  About half of my friends opted not to cut their boys.  While I applaud the decision not to cut, I would never vote for a ban on circumcision.  I think people should be allowed to parent their children how they see fit, and I don’t think I’m the only one in saying that a ban on circumcision would take away religious freedom as well.  I see this as the government over-stepping their bounds once again, and I am not a fan.

Either way, I definitely believe there needs to be more education out there about circumcision.  Many people think there are health hazards for an uncut penis, but that’s really not the case.  It’s in no way healthier or cleaner to have foreskin surgically removed, and I truly wish that more people realized this.  If San Franciscans are so up in arms about the matter why not do some PSAs instead of trying to implement an outright ban?  I think an education campaign should come first, but this is apparently a case where the cart is racing ahead of the horse.

What do you think, is circumcision barbaric and in need of a good old-fashioned ban, or should people be given the freedom to make their own parental choices?

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49 thoughts on “San Francisco Wants to Ban Circumcision

  1. I am normally not an advocate of letting parents raise their children as they see fit. But when I hear that, my mind immediately goes to child-abuse, and then I end up watching a marathon of Law & Order: SVU until the blind rage at the thought of child-abuse goes away.

    That said, this ban is completely stupid. I think that foreskin is neat — I don’t have my own, but on the very rare occasions that I encounter a guy who is uncircumcised, I . . . well, I won’t go into too much detail, but it’s interesting and different. Perhaps I wouldn’t feel that way if it weren’t such a rare find.

    It is in NO WAY child-abuse to remove an infant boy’s foreskin. The worst thing is when people compare the practice to female genital mutilation, which is horrible. Though I am normally opposed to parents making too many decisions for their children, this is a decision that infants cannot make for themselves.

    And, finally, it’s SO not a big deal. I know plenty of girls who freak out when they find out that a guy is uncircumcised, and others who say that they would not fool around with a guy who is uncircumcised, but I know -plenty- more who do not feel that way. And I don’t think that I know -any- gay guys who are biased one way or the other.

    So…San Fransisco needs to stop micromanaging people. If I lived there and had the option, I would be looking to move after the Happy Meal ban. I hate fascism.

  2. Oh, and it’s a pointless ban. I imagine that parents will just take their children somewhere else to be circumcised. That has nothing to do with the morality or legality of the proposed ban, of course.

  3. I am diametrically opposed to Simon in my views on whether or not circumcision is mutilation – male or female, but I do agree on the end result.

    No one has a right to tell you how to rear your child! I may try to convince you that being natural is healthier, but when it’s the end of the day, you pay your bills, not me.

  4. I am completely opposed to all circumcision, male and female. When I have friends who are pregnant and considering it, I counsel them to look into it and, if possible, watch a typical circumcision being performed. I want them to make an informed decision so they won’t later regret having made such a permanent decision for their infant boys.

    But this is ridiculous. It’s not going to stop a determined parent from having it done, because it doesn’t need to be done at birth in the hospital where the baby is born.
    Nothing will stop them from traveling to a nearby city to have it done. Hell, there are people who believe so strongly in female circumcision that they travel out of the country to have it done.
    I guess if San Fransisco, as a city, decided they were no longer going to be a place where circumcisions were performed it would be different. Then they would be placing the onus on the medical professionals to not cut an infant boys penis without his consent. (which can’t be given)
    I could understand a move like that. Instead, they’ve made it a crime for the parents to decide on circumcision.
    I call bullshit on this.

  5. Circumcision isn’t as common here in the UK, but I know a few men who underwent circumcision for medical reasons as children, so I have two thoughts here.

    1) Are they also going to ban and prosecute circumcisions for medical reasons? and 2) these boys would have been spared a fair amount of anxiety and pain had they been circumcised as infants.

    Regardless of my personal feelings about circumcision as a religious act, I can see a result of a ban being many more young boys in agony, and undergoing circumcision in their school years because of it.

  6. Ah yes, San Francisco. Leave it to that city to come up with a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist, except in their own utopian minds.

      • Because it’s considered (by some) unacceptable to let parents choose to remove parts of their children’s bodies for no medical reason.
        And because other members of the society want to stand up for children who are not able to speak for themselves, and say that it is a choice you are not permitted to make for your children.
        We have legislation that doesn’t permit parents from removing parts of their daughters’ bodies, and we seem to see that as necessary. We have legislation that doesn’t allow parents to remove any other part of their sons’ bodies without medical necessity (I think this is called prohibitions against mutilation, or against abuse) – why is the foreskin different?

  7. Look, Siobhan, this article misleading. I take offense at the way you presented the city. San Francisco doesn’t “want” to do anything. The city, or even it’s higher administrators aren’t pushing the banning of circumcision. It’s a proposal made by a citizen that may receive enough support (signatures form the public) to get put on the ballot. In other words, using the democratic process. You are framing this debate in terms that automatically rile people’s anti-government sentiments and this article is obviously sensationalist and just plain wrong. I’m very disappointed in Zelda Lily.

  8. I don’t see how you can support (or be indifferent to) male circumcision but be opposed to FGM. The differences between them are ones of degree, not kind. (like the difference between cutting a finger off vs cutting off an arm.)

    Both have the exact same list of reasons for having them done -medical, religious, and to control the child’s sexuality.

    The only difference is that one is done in the west, and one isn’t.

    • Came here to say exactly this. Siobhan, unless you are prepared to say that female genital mutilation is also a choice that every parent is entitled to make (so as not to tread on their religious freedom or parenting preferences), the entire premise of your article is invalid.

  9. When the fuck are people going to learn that making something illegal doesn’t make it go away? I have a feeling that a lot of babies with penis infections are going to crop up in San Francisco.
    I am against circumcision, but this is the wrong way to go about eliminating it. Educating people (what a concept!) is a much better solution, and one that still allows them to make decisions for their children.

  10. There won’t be an outbreak of infected baby penises in San Francisco. They’ll just go across the bay if they need to. San Francisco citizens need to be concerned about the issues that REALLY matter. The huge homeless population, the ever present stench of pee and sewer in some areas, etc.

    • The only reason boys get infected foreskins is because their idiot parents don’t teach them how to clean it. The vast majority of Europe’s men are uncircumcised and there aren’t a lot of infected penises over there. If you’re cutting off a part of your child’s genitals, you better have a damn good reason, and fear of an unwashed penis isn’t one of them.

      • If it gets infected once, you can bet it won’t get infected again. At least, assuming uncircumcised guys react to unpleasant infections the way most people do (which is to say, by avoiding getting them again).

  11. I was referring to the comment about back alley circumcisions. It’s San Francisco…there are plenty of other places to go if they shut it down in SF proper.

    Either way, infection is pretty rare in that area. (Even with a circumcision.)

  12. Ah…can’t hear the sarcasm on the internets. ;)

    It is a shame SF is kinda crazy, because I love the bay area. I highly doubt this will pass, and if it does, it will likely be vetoed. They love to fix things that aren’t broken instead of the real issues. In fact, the only semi-recent law that passed that I agree with is the plastic bag ban. The bags choked up the beaches like crazy.

  13. JJ,
    Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a cultural practice not a religious one. It is often done under the guise of religion but neither the Qur’an, the Bible, or any religious text for that matter, calls for FGM. However, male circumcision is mentioned in the Bible’s Old Testament. It is stated that all male Children need to be circumcised (Genesis 17:11). Do I agree with that? Heck no, however I believe in religious freedom.

    In my opinion the biggest difference between male circumcision and female genital mutilation is that FGM is performed to control a woman’s sexuality. That is its sole purpose. It’s all about control and making a woman submissive. Circumcision has never been about controlling the sexual desires of men. Also, despite your thoughts on male circumcision, it very rarely leads to long-term medical consequences. FGM, on the other hand nearly always leads to severe medical issues. FGM is not a quick easy procedure.

    While I too am against circumcision and understand why people would like to see it banned, I also believe that taking away religious freedom in unacceptable.

    • Actually, circumcision was used to control a male’s sexuality. That’s one of the original reasons non-semitic people began doing it. It was a way to prevent young men from engaging in masturbation.

      Sorry, but I don’t see how someone can uphold one as a “choice” and not the other.

  14. I have a second residence in San Francisco and let me tell you that city is whacked! It’s a beautiful city that’s been hijacked by crazy loons! They allow premium real estate to be festered with drug houses and homeless. They charge almost 15% tax at restaurants to pay for healthcare for employees. Let’s not even touch on the gay parades that really go overboard but of course are allowed. Now why am I not surprised that they would consider banning circumcision for males? I’m not. They just banned happy meals and selling puppies at pet shops! Really? And for the record female circumcision is differenet because it cuts off the girl’s clitoris which would never allow the girl to have a normal orgasm and therefore enjoy sex less even with her husband. Removing a small piece of skin on a male’s penis is hardly comparable. Quite frankly uncircumsized men that I have been with are less sensitive and wish they were circumsized.
    Back to the issue…male circumsicion has been a long practiced tradition that is acceptable to American society just as getting your ears pierced. San Francisco likes to force what most people in society would considered offensive and disgusting but then they have a problem with circumcision! That is simply not something that should be in the hands of the government to make. These of course are the same people who think it’s against gays civil liberties to not let them marry or adopt children but they want to ban sales of puppies, happy meals, and circumcision! Wow, this city is whacked!!!

    • See, now you’ve gone and said the “it’s only a little bit of skin” thing and everyone’s going to have to go into explicit detail about how many nerves that little bit of skin has and how men who are circumcised can’t feel like anything duh cuz the skin is magical.

    • Uhh…every freaking parade is insane in SF. Bay to Breakers? Kinda crazy. Love parade? Crazy, crazy, crazy. And I don’t mind paying the 14% so employees can have healthcare. But I do agree about the homeless/drug problem.

      And THE CITY is not the one that’s trying to get this on the ballot. It’s just some crazy nutjob. He’ll get the signatures, but this isn’t going to pass.

      • They do. It’s called an SRO. Unfortunately they don’t like em’ and would prefer to use the ambulance as a taxi service so they can sleep in the hospital. But that’s another story…

  15. I have decided to circumcise my son when he is born, not for religious reasons, but because it cuts his risk of contracting HIV. Studies conducted in Asia and Africa show that circumcision reduces a man’s risk of contracting the disease by 60%. Recent studies indicate that the high rate of male circumcision in the US has helped to prevent the kind of wide spread outbreaks seen in Africa, South America, Russia, and parts of Asia. It is not about religion or “being natural,” it is about making the best choices I can for my son.

    • I think it would be more likely that because we can, any time we want, walk over to a clean water source and wash our bodies we see a reduction and not circumcised penises.
      So yeah sure if we did not have running water I could see a pretty good reason for circumcision, but we do. Sorry you based you reasoning on such a small and more then likely pointless statistic.

    • ….How on earth can circumcision reduce HIV infection rates? I’m not saying you’re wrong, I just can’t wrap my head around how that would work.

    • Andro, while I certainly commend you for wanting to do as much as you can to protect your son, the information that you have is faulty.

      !. Approximately 79% of adult males are circumcised in the USA.
      2. We currently have an epidemic of HIV in the USA.
      3. It is estimated that approximately 4% of American males are Gay, yet 52% of the reported HIV cases are from homosexual males.
      4. HIV transmission in Africa (where the study was done that you heard about) is largely heterosexual.
      What does this tell us?
      I feel that it says nothing about whether or not circumcision is effective as far as HIV prevention, what it does say is what we have always known: some segments of the population will engage in risky behavior. The high transmission rate in Africa may well be traced to the prevalence of anal sex used as birth control. The physiology of the structures used in anal sex lend themselves to injury more easily than vaginal-penile sex, often resulting in small tears and bleeding. This is just one reason why condom use is so important.

      There is no magic formula for preventing HIV transmission.

      Education, education, education.
      In short – no.
      Circumcision will NOT protect your son from HIV.

    • Are you also having a mastectomy to reduce your own chances of breast cancer? That would probably make MORE sense. Breast cancer can strike randomly, while HIV never comes without the risky behaviour that allows one to contract it.
      Your son will be old enough to decide if it’s worth the risk for himself long before he will be old enough to worry about contracting HIV from sex.
      Why do you not feel it is his choice?
      Do you wish your parents had preemptively removed your appendix, tonsils, and breast tissue?

  16. So apparently San Fransico is filled with a bunch of liberals that want to tell everybody else what to do and who also happen to have specific anti-Semite undertones?

    • No, Cat.
      What this says (read the article linked in the posting) is that ONE person started a campaign to have this put on the ballot.

      You can do the same. Start a drive to have ear piercing banned in your local community.
      Let me know how that works out for you.

  17. Is it also up to a parent to decide how they want to raise their children if they want to remove other parts of the child’s body? Like say, parts of the genital of a female?
    I cannot understand how people can simultaneously condemn FGM and support male circumcision. As stated above, the difference is only one of degree. Whether a cultural or religious practice, it’s the same traditional idea, and neither is medically necessary for the vast majority of the population.
    Any ‘cleanliness’ issues (remember – they use that same excuse in places where FGM is standard) are easily solved by soap and water, and in our wonderful countries, we are lucky enough to have easy access to such rarities!
    Making something illegal will not make it go away, but it says to the population that as far as our powers go, we will not accept it here. The fact that rape, murder, child abuse, litter, heroin use and many others continue to exist has not stopped societies from making them illegal when the society decides it is unacceptable.
    The same goes here.

  18. What is the difference between a cultural practice and a religious practice such that an activity belonging to the latter category is permissible based solely upon its inclusion in that category while a similar activity belonging to the former category is not permissible. What do we draw the line between religion and culture?

    What is the proof of my “religion”? Do I need an “authoritative” text? What constitutes authority? How old does the text have to be before I can use it as a reference for behavior that would normally be prohibited? Should there be a peer-review process? Do I need proof of my religious heritage, an official document of conversion, or can I just claim my religion as I wish? Should there be a waiting period following such a conversion or claim before I can invoke my religious rights? Is a quorum necessary, or can I be alone in my religion? I have so many questions.

    I’m not even sure if I’m being sarcastic or not.

  19. Pingback: Zelda Lily Zingers: The Best Comments of the Week – Zelda Lily, Feminism in a Bra

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