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Will San Francisco Ban Circumcision?

Will San Francisco Ban Circumcision?

A few weeks ago San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors voted to ban toy giveaways in meals that don’t meet certain nutritional standards, like McDonald’s Happy Meals. Now that same city may be getting ready to vote on another contentious issue relating to children’s health: Circumcision.

If Lloyd Schofield is successful, a circumcision ban could end up on the ballot next November. Schofield, who argues that it is genital mutilation, would like to make it illegal to “circumcise, excise, cut or mutilate” the genitals of anyone under the age of 18. While some parents are outraged at the proposition, claiming that it is a personal choice, Schofield contends that it is a personal choice — the personal choice of the person whose body it is. Schofield needs 7,100 signatures in order to get his proposal on the ballot next November.

Some people choose to circumcise their boys for societal reasons (e.g. “everyone does it” or “I don’t want him to look different from his dad”) and others do it for traditional or religious reasons. However, in a lot of areas the tide seems to be turning on circumcision with more parents considering the potential negative effects of circumcision on newborn boys and some medical authorities stating that there are no health benefits to circumcision. While there has been some discussion about the potential for circumcision to lower the incidence of female to male HIV transmission, experts are divided on this,  some maintaining that condoms offer the only real protection.

The question is, if San Francisco is successful in putting this ban in place, will other locations follow suit or will parents in San Francisco simply take their newborn boys elsewhere to be circumcised?

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Image credit: nerdcoregirl on flickr taken at the San Francisco Pride Parade in 2008.

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379 comments

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10:53AM PDT on Aug 7, 2011

Wow, these comments seem to be getting a little personal. I wrote a paper for a class once against circumcision (infant pain, and all that), but I'm still fairly undecided. Unless the parents were properly instructed as to how to clean out the foreskin, and did so *very* regularly, there is a high chance for infection. I hate to say it, but realistically, I think a lot of young boys would be getting infections- especially given that so many adult men in the US are already circumcised and would be unfamiliar with the mechanics.

As a personal anecdote, I once worked with a low-functioning nonverbal man with autism. He was uncircumcised, and staff would often be cleaning FOOD out of very uncomfortable places. I imagine the same could happen with uncircumcised toddlers as well. Gross, but true :-p

6:00PM PDT on Jun 28, 2011

Calling somneone a liar because they're too closed-minded and ignorant to punderstand the statements being made is un-called-for, and Frederick, you're out of line. I didn't call YOU a liar because I don't agree with you, did I? I don't see "witch doctors", either, but maybe you do. "Insane paranoia"? Hardly. Sorry you have such a tiny ability to comprehend making healthy choices and comprehending logic. Live YOUR life as precariously and take whatever risks YOU want to take, but stop spewing your ignorance that involves everyone else. Nobody suggested removing healthy skin where there were NO moles, try reading what was said again. Being Jewish also has nothing to do with breast cancer. My sister had it and no links to Jews in my family, period. I suggest getting your glasses fixed, but no suggestions about the brain cells, sorry......maybe no hope there.

10:38AM PDT on Jun 28, 2011

How about san fran banning the ability to absorb oxygen and do the rest of the country a favor ok!

5:50AM PDT on Jun 28, 2011

"So YES, Frederick, if I had a mole that was funky, you BET I'd have it removed so one of the most deadly forms of cancer wouldn't be an issue." So Diane, Are you are saying you'd cut off parts or all of any of your healthy organs if a witch doctor convinced you that it might grow old and develop dysfunctions? I can see that the reason behind your justification for unnecessary amputations is paranoia of the unknown, fear of superstitions, miss-educated.

5:44AM PDT on Jun 28, 2011

Diane says "Frederick, most of your comments haven't been worthy (to me, anyway) of responding to, but your last one suggests we remove a woman's breast to prevent cancer, or portions of skin for the same reason."
Anyone can read your comment and see you are lying. I was clearly suggesting religious, ritual,and routine unnecessary surgery is insane. Yes, actually, it IS. Advised in some cases, many people have moles which are pre-disposed to malignancy removed at their own request, but never to prevent a possible mole. That's just insane paranoia. And even if they aren't cancerous NOW, could become so, and doctors advise they be removed BEFORE they do so, but never BEFORE a mole develops. Many women have a high risk of breast cancer because they carry the gene for it....yes, it is the same gene that shows the maternal link to the Jewess Diaspora, there are tests and it can be hereditary, and some women opt for that rather than take the risks, but their mothers would never have their daughter breast buds circumcised to prevent the possibility. I personally think that the geneticist who labeled that Jewess gene as being a cancer risk, was only getting even because the Jewess's lies cause men to become circumcised as infants. It's a spell breaking spell that doubles back onto the witches who cast the circumcision curse.
"So YES, Frederick, if I had a mole that was funky, you BET I'd have it removed so one of the most deadly forms of cancer wouldn't be an issue." So Diane

11:46PM PDT on Jun 27, 2011

whoops, character couter still not working........one can live without a spleen, but IF it ruptures, it can cause death. Nobody is advocating for routine spleenectomies, however. I know all about that from just having my 13-yr-old Golden Retreiver undergo said surgery. Same situation with humans as with dogs......Google it.

Frederick, most of your comments haven't been worthy (to me, anyway) of responding to, but your last one suggests we remove a woman's breast to prevent cancer, or portions of skin for the same reason. Yes, actually, it IS advised in some cases. Many people have moles which are pre-disposed to malignancy, and even if they aren't cancerous NOW, could become so, and doctors advise they be removed BEFORE they do so. Many women have a high risk of breast cancer because they carry the gene for it....yes, there are tests and it can be hereditary, and some women opt for that rather than take the risks. So YES, Frederick, if I had a mole that was funky, you BET I'd have it removed so one of the most deadly forms of cancer wouldn't be an issue.

11:39PM PDT on Jun 27, 2011

OMG,I give up. It's like tying to explain anything to a rock. Even my dog understands what he's hearing more than you do, Patrick. Most of us who are not obsessed with "sexual pleasure" being more if NOT circumcized are very capable of understanding the health and hygiene reasons. My guess is that you can't explain why it isn't equal or better if NOT, so you assume it isn't. I could care less what your personal excuses are. As for being natural, so are dewclaws on puppies. If not, then why are 90% or more of them born with them? God messed up there, I guess. He MEANT for male infants to have a foreskin, but not for puppies? That would be a logical conclusion if you believe in God, I guess.

You've denied previously (when it was thrown back at you) that you never implied I (or anyone else) WAS Jewish, but you just did so again, and your last sentence is very snarky and un-called-for.

Comparing a simple cosmetic surgery on an external organ is hardly the same as invasive INTERNAL surgery to remove an appendix or even tonsils, and yes, they no longer ROUTINELY do tonsillectomies, but they used to, and as I said, much simpler as a child than as an adult. Ask any adult who has had one. Appendix' aren't PRE-CONDITIONED to rupture, but it happens, and when it does, it can be life-threatening. I would agree that it would be illogical to remove the appendix from EVERY child born to prevent that, however. One can live without a spleen, and there again, IF it ruptur

9:59PM PDT on Jun 27, 2011

Religious, ritual, routine infant circumcisions and excisions of the prepuce. What's next, routine infant tonsillectomy,appendectomy, mastectomies,vasectomies, because they are safer when as an infant and they can't object, and think of the long term potential benefits. If you think it is justifiable to cut infants because it is safer, or might have a potential benefit then you need a routine lobotomy. You wouldn't excise your skin to prevent skin cancer, why foreskin to prevent foreskin cancer. Once you understand why we all evolved prepuces and what their functions are, it becomes clear that circumcision is a natural sacrificial punishment for false beliefs causing miss use and lack of care.

8:27PM PDT on Jun 27, 2011

Diane: The only possible health reason for circumcision is if there is a specific medical problem with the foreskin. Since men are born with them, they are a normal part of the body, thus problems are rare. Your arguments seem to be still aimed at assuming that an adult man would want to be without prepuce, so parents are somehow doing him a favor. As has been mentioned here, only about 1% of European men have been circumcised and those are typically the ones that had a medical problem. No, I do not think it is stretching to compare cutting a healthy penis with cutting a healthy hand. All the examples you cited, such as tonsils are again connected with a specific medical disorder. Surgery is always a last resort treatment, even within the medical field.

For all you women who express disgust or revulsion toward the uncircumcised male -- you should thank your lucky stars that your female ancestors did not feel the same way. Yes, I know, if you're Jewish, that wouldn't count. Most of you, if you go back 2-3 generations, will find that your male ancestors held all the physical attributes God gave them, and would have been horrified to think of taking a knife to that tender part. Most women were totally accepting of this, at least as much as any woman admires such. I suggest that it is nothing more than cultural conditioning. Being ruled by your upbringing is not a suitable reason to cut into the flesh of a newborn baby.

7:49PM PDT on Jun 27, 2011

Patrick, you still don't "get it" that there is a huge difference between a parent making a choice that is FOR the future health of their child and one that is merely for "asthetic" or personal tastes as to what looks good or not. You also refuse to accept that there is a lot of difference between a simple procedure such as circumcision and mutilation as was used by you to compare.....cutting off a hand?

You know that logically, an 8-yr-old or older will not ASK to be circumcized anymore than he will ASK to have a tooth pulled, and that is why parents are PARENTS. Waiting until adulthood? Even more of a major surgery that an adult male will probably NOT opt for unless absolutely necessary. I had my tonsils out when I was 5.......I sure didn't WANT them out! Most kids go home the same day. I was so against cooperating, I had to stay overnight (I had more anesthesia administered than normal). My ex-husband had his tonsils removed when he was 25. He was hospitalized for 3 days and could hardly eat for a week.

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