San Francisco’s Potential Ban On Circumcision: Not Prioritizing The Health Of Boys

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Parents for or against circumcision have a new topic to discuss at cocktail parties: San Francisco is proposing a ban on all circumcision for boys under the age of 18. Despite religious intention, a parent who circumcises their baby son could receive a maximum fine of $1,000 and a year in jail. Even though this proposed ban does infringe on religious freedom, circumcision is a practice that is carried out without consent, anesthesia, and with negligible health benefits. But would this ban really prioritize the health of boys and men?

Lloyd Schofield who is leading the ban told Reuters that circumcision is “excruciatingly painful and permanently damaging surgery that’s forced on men when they’re at their weakest and most vulnerable.”

As much as I agree with Schofield’s observation, it would seem that the well-being of boys and men is not at the forefront of his ban. The rate of complications from circumcision is 10 times higher in men than in infants, making infancy the best time to circumcise if at all. Considering that this ban would make these little boys wait until they were legal adults before going ahead the procedure, the ban would in fact increase their health risks.

Should this ban be voted into enactment (which it’s expected not to), I suspect that many religious families would have their sons circumcised anyway. But if San Francisco passes a proposal that would limit their access to qualified doctors who would openly and safely perform the procedure, I worry about the infections and other health risks that these little boys would incur.

Although I understand Schofield’s basis for the ban, I doubt it will achieve his desired outcome of less circumcisions. Best to keep this practice legal, and therefore safe, for those parents who will forge ahead with circumcisions for religious reasons — if for nothing else, than the health of baby boys.





  1. Cyn

    May 15, 2011 at 9:31 am

    “Not Prioritizing The Health Of Boys”

    Oh please! Foreskin is not a ‘health issue’. It’s not a birth defect. It’s a perfectly normal, natural part of the male anatomy and, barring immediate medical need (which is actually quite *rare*), there is no logical, moral, or ethical reason for removing it from the body of a non-consenting human being.

  2. Steve C

    May 15, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    People have had foreskin for thousands of years with little to no trouble at all, and your scenario doesn’t allow for the fact that some men when older may not even WANT to have the procedure done, especially if they’re not having any problems. “If it ain’t broke,don’t fix it”, which applies to this situation in many forms.

  3. Lori Hall

    May 15, 2011 at 2:36 pm

    The photo attached to your article is of a mohel, whose hands are bare during a surgical procedure. Explain to me how this is “priortizing” the health of boys? An open bleeding wound, bare hands… ripe environment for infection.
    And again, as you refused to post the last comment I made, neonatal cirucmcision causes brain damage and lasting genital degredation.
    My covenant with God should not maim my child for life. My child has the same rights to religious freedom as I do.
    Leaving baby boys as nature and God intended them IS putting the health of these babies first. Did you bother to actually do the research in the last 5 hours?

  4. Lisa

    February 20, 2012 at 9:57 pm

    Female circumcision was made illegal in the 1990s. Now you get 5 years in jail if you have your daughter circumcised. And the most common form of female circumcision in the US removes very little tissue. Much less tissue than male circumcision removes, as (the most common form of) female circumcision only removes part of the foreskin on the clitoral hood. Why should we not keep our children equal? Why is it still okay to circumcise our boys when it carries such serious risks as infection, need for future correction and even death? Removing your finger would prevent you from getting cancer in it, and it is more common for men to get breast cancer than it is for them to get penile cancer. We should be removing their breast tissue. *sarcasm*

    And why is it, that it is the woman’s body, so her choice to have an abortion or keep a pregnancy, but once the baby is out, it is not his body and his choice, but his parents are allowed to cut off a perfectly functioning and healthy part of his body?

    I can understand circumcision for medical reasons, but to be routinely done is not right. And if you want to use religion as your decision making tool, the new testament speaks out against circumcision.

    Also, men spend thousands upon thousands to have their penis restored, but they are still without those 2,000 nerve endings severed when the foreskin is removed. And they will likely need lubricant for intercourse, as the natural lubricant present with an intact penis will not be there.

    A man can always choose to become circumcised when he is older, but he can not choose to become completely intact again.

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