The Washington Post has an interesting set of opinion pieces about San Francisco's upcoming ballot initiative to ban circumcision. The opposing arguments can basically be summed up as follows:
1. Banning circumcision is blatant anti-Semitism. Oh, and it's also anti-Muslim.
2. Banning circumcision violates the First Amendment right to free exercise of religion.
1. The infant is not able to give consent to circumcision.
2. The practice has no benefit and is comparable to female genital mutilation.
My thoughts: First of all, anyone who thinks circumcision is comparable to FGM doesn't really know much about either practice. Circumcision occurs in sterile conditions, is practiced by professionals, performed within a month of birth, involves removing a small piece of skin, and does not result in permanent damage (of course there is always an exception). FGM occurs in all kinds of conditions, sterile and filthy, is practiced by a random assortment of people licensed and unlicensed, performed at puberty without anesthesia, involves direct removal of portions of the clitoris and minor labia, and very often results in permanent damage. In addition, at least 2 types of FGM require further "surgery" to allow for sex and childbirth, when the sutured major labia are cut open with a knife to allow vaginal access. No circumcised male EVER needs further surgery to have sex. The ONLY similarity between circumcision and FGM is that the end result is surgically modified genitals.
My second thought is about vaccinations. People are allowed to refuse vaccinations for their children. This refusal is a public health threat and can be disastrous for the child's health. (Just check on the long term effects of measles, mumps and rubella). Further, this refusal is not based on any religious grounds - it's based, in large part, on a set of studies that have been proven false. One could easily argue that the decision to vaccinate has a much greater impact on a child and on public health than the decision to circumcise. So why is the religious decision to circumcise being persecuted if the decision to avoid vaccinations completely is protected?
What are your thoughts? Is circumcision a valuable religious practice or an outdated ritual that needlessly mutilates the penis? Why should it be banned, or not banned? What about infant ear piercing? Is it comparable? After all, it's an unnecessary procedure done without the infant's consent that isn't reversible...