Circumcision ban to appear on San Francisco ballot


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http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110519/ap_on_re_us/us_circumcision_ban

Circumcision ban to appear on San Francisco ballot

By ROBIN HINDERY, The Associated Press Robin Hindery, The Associated Press Wed May 18, 9:30 pm ET

SAN FRANCISCO – A proposal to ban the circumcision of male children in San Francisco has been cleared to appear on the November ballot, setting the stage for the nation's first public vote on what has long been considered a private family matter.

But even in a city with a long-held reputation for pushing boundaries, the measure is drawing heavy fire. Opponents are lining up against it, saying a ban on a religious rite considered sacred by Jews and Muslims is a blatant violation of constitutional rights.

Elections officials confirmed Wednesday the initiative had qualified for the ballot with more than 7,700 valid signatures from city residents. Initiatives must have at least 7,168 names to qualify.

If the measure passes, circumcision would be prohibited among males under the age of 18. The practice would become a misdemeanor offense punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 or up to one year in jail. There would be no religious exemptions.

The proposed ban appears to be the first in the country to make it this far, though a larger national debate over the health benefits of circumcision has been going on for many years. Banning circumcision would almost certainly prompt a flurry of legal challenges alleging violations of the First Amendment's guarantee of the freedom to exercise one's religious beliefs.

Supporters of the ban say male circumcision is a form of genital mutilation that is unnecessary, extremely painful and even dangerous. They say parents should not be able to force the decision on their young child.

"Parents are really guardians, and guardians have to do what's in the best interest of the child. It's his body. It's his choice," said Lloyd Schofield, the measure's lead proponent and a longtime San Francisco resident. He added the cutting away of the foreskin from the penis is a more invasive medical procedure than many new parents or childless individuals realize.

But opponents say such claims are alarmingly misleading, and call the proposal a clear violation of constitutionally protected religious freedoms.

"For a city that's renowned for being progressive and open-minded, to even have to consider such an intolerant proposition ... it sets a dangerous precedent for all cities and states," said Rabbi Gil Yosef Leeds of Berkeley. Leeds is a certified "mohel," the person who traditionally performs ritual circumcisions in the Jewish faith.

He said for the past few months he has been receiving daily phone calls from members of the local Jewish community who are concerned about the proposed ban. But he said he is relatively confident that even if the measure is approved, it will be abruptly — and indefinitely — tied up in litigation.

Jews consider religious male circumcision a commandment from God. It also is widely practiced by Muslims, and while it does not appear in the Quran it is mentioned in the Sunnah, the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad. Most Christian denominations neither require nor forbid circumcision.

The initiative's backers say its progress is the biggest success story to date in a decades-old, nationwide movement by so-called "intactivists" to end circumcision of male infants in the United States. A similar effort by the Tarrytown, N.Y.-based group Intact America to introduce a circumcision ban in the Massachusetts Legislature last year failed to gain traction.

"It's been kind of under the radar until now, but it was a conversation that needed to happen," Schofield said of the debate over male circumcision. "We've tapped into a spark with our measure — something that's been going on for a long time."

Schofield's group calls its initiative the San Francisco Male Genital Mutilation bill, though he said the city attorney has opted to call the measure "Male Circumcision" on the ballot. The group's official website features a picture of a wide-eyed, delighted-looking baby and urges visitors to help "protect ALL infants and children in San Francisco from the pain and harm caused by forced genital cutting."

Female genital cutting, a controversial practice that usually involves the removal of the clitoris, is illegal in the United States. A circumcision ban would simply extend the same protections to males, Schofield said.

International health organizations have promoted circumcision as an important strategy for reducing the spread of the AIDS virus. That's based on studies that showed it can prevent AIDS among heterosexual men in Africa.

But there hasn't been the same kind of push for circumcision in the U.S., in part because nearly 80 percent of American men are already circumcised, a much higher proportion than the worldwide average of 30 percent. Also, HIV spreads mainly among gay men in the U.S., and research indicates circumcision doesn't protect gay men from HIV.

For years, federal health officials have been working on recommendations regarding circumcision. The effort was sparked by studies that found circumcision is partially effective in preventing the virus' spread between women and men. The recommendations are still being developed, and there is no date set for their release, said a spokeswoman for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC doesn't have a position on the San Francisco proposal, said the spokeswoman, Elizabeth-Ann Chandler.

The chief of pediatric urology at the University of California, San Francisco Benioff Children's Hospital said he remains neutral on the subject of circumcision when parents come to him seeking advice. Dr. Laurence Baskin said he instead tries to educate them about the medical benefits and potential downsides of the procedure.

In addition to the AIDS studies, Baskin cited published research indicating that circumcision can reduce the incidence of other sexually transmitted diseases, as well as penile cancer and urinary tract infections. He disputed claims that circumcision is mutilation or causes significant pain.

"It has what I would say would be a minimal amount of pain if done properly, so my recommendation is to use anesthesia," he said. However, he noted, "most people aren't circumcised and they do just fine."

Baskin was not neutral on the subject of the new ballot measure, calling it "a bunch of nonsense."

"I'm not going to stop doing circumcisions, and this would never pass the First Amendment test," he said. "The people who are doing this should focus on our budget problems, lack of education — something that could really help society."

___

AP Medical Writer Mike Stobbe contributed to this report from Atlanta.

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Since it does not involve an imminent danger to the continuation of one's life, where one cannot give active consent (such as when one is unconscious), only one question is relevant here:

Can the subject of such elective surgery give informed consent?

The answer at that age, obviously, is "No." This is one of the extremely rare cases where I believe such a legislative action is justifiable. (Not that it wouldn't be better handled through informed, rational, and private medical / ethical decision-making. The initiative process is a blunt, easily-abused instrument.)

It is forced genital mutilation, and parents do not have the right to do this without their son's informed consent. Past customs or religious rites are not legitimate excuses.

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I agree with Greybird, at least in terms of theory.

Individuals own their own genitals, and the protection of freedom of religion does NOT extent to religious rituals that violate individual rights (i.e. human sacrifice, for instance, and female genital mutilation as well).

If female genital mutilation for religious reasons is banned, male circumcision should be banned as well. Unless one wants to assume that male genitals are somehow less deserving of protection than female genitals.

In terms of practical politics, unfortunately, this will be difficult to do.... Judaism and Islam both mandate infant male circumcision. This ballot puts Individual Rights against political correctness AND love of tradition...

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Paging Doctor Huxley ... let's get those pesky parents out of the child rearing process...

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It was the ban on circumcision imposed by the Greeks that lead to the Hasmonian Uprising. This is celebrated by the Jewish Holiday of Chanukah.

This ridiculous law being proposed in San Francisco is clear a violation of the First Amendment and it will be extinguished in the Federal courts.

Circumcision is what saves little Jewish boys from the Curse of Smegma when they grow up.

A circumcised dong stays up longer and stronger and is cleaner and meaner.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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Here's a good review of the issues:

According to this, a huge percentage of American males get circumcised, trying to legislate against it seems like quite an over-reach. OTOH, this will serve to bring visibility to the issue, getting people to question more whether they should "carry on the tradition", as the narrator of the video says he did.

This ridiculous law being proposed in San Francisco is clear a violation of the First Amendment and it will be extinguished in the Federal courts.

I agree with Bob on the First Amendment applicability. Though, there are plenty of Old Testament commands that are now illegal to perform.

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As for the First Amendment, the Supreme Court long ago ruled that you have the right to believe what you want, but not to do what you want. That was in the case of polygamy ahead of Utah's admission to the Union. Polygamy is Biblical, of course. The Supreme Court found a slippery slope: if you let people do what they want by claims of religion, we will have no way to stop human sacrifice.

Circumcision is not limited to Abrahamics. In an anthropology class, we read about circumcision among people in East Africa. It is voluntary (nominally) but done between the ages of 12 and 21 at the choice of the boy/man. The study we read was pretty interesting in that before circumcision, the boys are allowed to have relations with the wives of men. After circumcision, other men's wives are off-limits. The Wikipedia article has a lot on this and links, of course. See here.

I agree that you can always choose to have it done after you are old enough to decide for yourself.

Edited by Michael E. Marotta
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I am a simple person...

just tell the government to keep it's hands off our dicks!

Or, we will shoot to kill!

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I agree that you can always choose to have it done after you are old enough to decide for yourself.

Yes. Old enough so the operation hurts. I am grateful to my parents (peace be upon them) for having my dingus improved at the age of 8 days, before my pain receptors were fully developed. I have been at many brises and I have seen the little babies sleep through the procedure. At 8 days it is painless and safe. And it is good for the child. He will never know the curse of smegma when he grows up.

My position is similar to another expressed here. I say to the government keep your hands off not only my dingus but that of my male children.

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I am a simple person...

just tell the government to keep it's hands off our dicks!

Or, we will shoot to kill!

never drink and shoot. you might aim at a tax collector or a government regulator and miss. (Thanks to Robert A. Heinlein for that one).

Ba'al Chatzaf

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If female genital mutilation for religious reasons is banned, male circumcision should be banned as well. Unless one wants to assume that male genitals are somehow less deserving of protection than female genitals.

Female clitorodectomies for religious reasons should not be banned. They are not life threatening. Also if they are not banned then circumcisions won't be banned either which is the main thing.

A female clitorodectomy is something I would never do my my daughters, not in a zillion years. There are no benefits to it that I am aware of. They do not prevent fatal diseases. Whereas male circumcision prevents cancer of the glans penis, a potentially fatal disease.

My parents saw to it that my member was improved just as I did the same thing for my male children. And at an age when it did not hurt.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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If female genital mutilation for religious reasons is banned, male circumcision should be banned as well. Unless one wants to assume that male genitals are somehow less deserving of protection than female genitals.

Female clitorodectomies for religious reasons should not be banned. They are not life threatening. Also if they are not banned then circumcisions won't be banned either which is the main thing.

Ba'al Chatzaf

Bob,

The trouble is, I don't think you are being at all ironic.

If it so happened that male circumcision destroyed the nerve-endings in the child's penis, and rendered sex unpleasurable for the man, would you still defend it?

For "religious reasons."?

(Jewish men would have reneged on their Covenant with God pretty damn fast, if that were so.)

You do know that that's what happens with a clitorodectomy, don't you?

And do you know the 'cultural reason' for it: that the woman is less likely to stray.

??

Geez, you do throw me, at times.

Tony

Edited by whYNOT
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If female genital mutilation for religious reasons is banned, male circumcision should be banned as well. Unless one wants to assume that male genitals are somehow less deserving of protection than female genitals.

Female clitorodectomies for religious reasons should not be banned. They are not life threatening. Also if they are not banned then circumcisions won't be banned either which is the main thing.

Ba'al Chatzaf

Bob,

The trouble is, I don't think you are being at all ironic.

If it so happened that male circumcision destroyed the nerve-endings in the child's penis, and rendered sex unpleasurable for the man, would you still defend it?

For "religious reasons."?

(Jewish men would have reneged on their Covenant with God pretty damn fast, if that were so.)

But getting ones wick trimmed at 8 days of age does none of the above. As a daddy of 4 and a man who has led a (shall we say) satisfying life, I deny it. And if clitorodectomies hobble women on whom it is done, that is not my problem, it is theirs. Jews do not do that to their daughters. What others do is not my concern since it portends no harm to me and mine.

As to the second point, this is what would happen. The Rabbis would have "deduced" that it would be sufficient to remove a tiny snippet of the foreskin and call the male child circumcised and in the covenant of Abraham. You really should get a handle on how Jews reconcile their idiocy of the literal interpretation of Halacha (Jewish law) with the realities of living on planet Earth. We Jews are among the reigning champions of this reconciliation which is why we have survived 3500 hundred years in spite of strenuous efforts of other nations to wipe us out to the last man, woman and child. We are good at it, I say unabashedly. The Bible may be our Bible but the Talmud and the oral tradition is our survival guide. And the basic principle still holds today as it did back in the day of Hammurappi: Don't fuck with the Jews.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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I agree with this and what Greybird and Michael have said. The involuntary mutiliation of a human being's genitalia (no matter what age or sex they are) is not only barbaric but should be left to someone wait until they are of age to where they would be able to decide. A parent takes on the role of guardian and caretaker of the child they bring into the world. That right does not include circumcising their baby's genitals for religious or other reasons.

If female genital mutilation for religious reasons is banned, male circumcision should be banned as well. Unless one wants to assume that male genitals are somehow less deserving of protection than female genitals.

Edited by Mike Renzulli
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I agree with this and what Greybird and Michael have said. The involuntary mutiliation of a human being's genitalia (no matter what age or sex they are) is not only barbaric but should be left to someone wait until they are of age to where they would be able to decide. A parent takes on the role of guardian and caretaker of the child they bring into the world. That right does not include circumcising their baby's genitals for religious or other reasons.

If female genital mutilation for religious reasons is banned, male circumcision should be banned as well. Unless one wants to assume that male genitals are somehow less deserving of protection than female genitals.

Solution: Do not ban the genital surgery on females. It is not life threatening and if it makes people with certain religious beliefs jolly, let it be done. The State does not own the c*nts of baby girls.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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Read Ayaan Hirsi Ali's book Infidel and read about her experience with female circumcision. In Ali's case her grandmother coerced her into having her genitalia mutilated. After doing so then let me know if you still come to the same conclusion.

I agree with this and what Greybird and Michael have said. The involuntary mutiliation of a human being's genitalia (no matter what age or sex they are) is not only barbaric but should be left to someone wait until they are of age to where they would be able to decide. A parent takes on the role of guardian and caretaker of the child they bring into the world. That right does not include circumcising their baby's genitals for religious or other reasons.

If female genital mutilation for religious reasons is banned, male circumcision should be banned as well. Unless one wants to assume that male genitals are somehow less deserving of protection than female genitals.

Solution: Do not ban the genital surgery on females. It is not life threatening and if it makes people with certain religious beliefs jolly, let it be done. The State does not own the c*nts of baby girls.

Ba'al Chatzaf

Edited by Mike Renzulli
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I agree with Bob on the First Amendment applicability. Though, there are plenty of Old Testament commands that are now illegal to perform.

Solution: Do not ban the genital surgery on females. It is not life threatening and if it makes people with certain religious beliefs jolly, let it be done. The State does not own the c*nts of baby girls.

Agreeing with Bob inevitably requires qualifications. I think a ban on circumcision of males will be overturned on First Amendment grounds, the reasons being a combination of it's ubiquity and it's religious history. Female circumcision doesn't have those features, it is a tribal custom in parts of Africa, and apparently is not religiously ordained (it certainly isn't called for in Islam).

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Circumcision is what saves little Jewish boys from the Curse of Smegma when they grow up.

Why should smegma become any problem if a man takes regular showers?

I agree that you can always choose to have it done after you are old enough to decide for yourself.

Yes. Old enough so the operation hurts. I am grateful to my parents (peace be upon them) for having my dingus improved at the age of 8 days, before my pain receptors were fully developed. I have been at many brises and I have seen the little babies sleep through the procedure.

What you mean by 'sleep through'? If it is done under anesthesia, of course they would sleep through. Or do they perform it without any anesthesia at all?

At 8 days it is painless and safe. And it is good for the child.

Yeah, right. I suppose if cutting off part of a child's earlobe were a "tradition" in some cultures, we too would hear advocates of the procedure praising it as "painless and safe" and "good for the child". :angry:

Edited by Xray
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Solution: Do not ban the genital surgery on females. It is not life threatening and if it makes people with certain religious beliefs jolly, let it be done. The State does not own the c*nts of baby girls.

Thank goodness you and I live in states where the law forbids parents to have such horrific procedure performed on their female children.

I think a ban on circumcision of males will be overturned on First Amendment grounds, the reasons being a combination of it's ubiquity and it's religious history. Female circumcision doesn't have those features, it is a tribal custom in parts of Africa, and apparently is not religiously ordained (it certainly isn't called for in Islam).

In 2006, Islamic scholars at a conference in Kairo's Azhar university declared any form of female circumcision as "harmful and un-islamic".

Edited by Xray
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Yeah, right. I suppose if cutting off part of a child's earlobe were a "tradition" in some cultures, we too would hear advocates of the procedure praising it as "painless and safe" and "good for the child". :angry:

Yea. Right. Making it less likely to have cancers of the glans penis is a bad thing. Right? Also saving the child from the curse of smegma when he older. To be sure, circumcision was not instituted as a medical preventive measure but as a primitive religious act. But, in fact, there is a medical benefit to be had from the action.

A clean dick, is a happy dick and its owner is likely to be healthier and live longer.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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No ear piercings of men, women, transgendered, undecided, etc. until 18 to be consistent correct?

No piercings of any kind until 18 because there is no informed consent correct?

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Oh, boy, and I do mean boy because it is only male circumcision I know about. There is no female circumcision - it is wrong to call it so, it is a mutilation and a violation which can never be justified.

What I know of male circumcision is this: my husband was uncircumcised, and chose circumcision for both his sons, for the sake of their future sexual health and enjoyment. At the time I knew nothing of the subject, and as he felt very strongly about it (won't get technical but he explained it very reasonably) I accepted his decision. Now, it is a contentious issue and I have been told I should feel guilty for acquiescing in mutilating my children.

My elder son chose to have my grandson circumcised.

As to blighting a boy's sexual life: well, really. 50 million Frenchmen have often been wrong and I'm sure 500 million Jewish men could be too, as could any men.Or women. But they can't all be so wrong as not to know that that the foreskin is small, and there's lots of skin left , and that though we are all entitled to every single tiny nerve ending we are born with, we don't need them all. Is there really a whole generation of young circumcised men out there, driving themselves crazy because they think they aren't enjoying sex as much as they could, because of medical butchery and their parents' ignorance?

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Carol:

This is a parenting issue and the state should stay the fuck out of it completely.

Adam

Post Script:

Missed you. Welcome back. Was concerned that you were pre-raptured!

Edited by Selene
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Carol:

This is a parenting issue and the state should stay the fuck out of it completely.

Adam

Post Script:

Missed you. Welcome back. Was concerned that you were pre-raptured!

Adam,

For once we are in complete agreement. Even one of our devil-horned socialist PMs said "The State has no business in the bedrooms of the nation" and I know now he would say the state had no business at the bris or the circumcision table in the doctor's office, or harrying the parents with political correctness.

Missed you too! Going Galt technically without volition is not rapturous, believe me!

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No ear piercings of men, women, transgendered, undecided, etc. until 18 to be consistent correct?

No piercings of any kind until 18 because there is no informed consent correct?

I was just thinking, if we could ask for consent for circumcision, here's what the answer would sound like:

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