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Should San Francisco Ban Circumcision?

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Should San Francisco Ban Circumcision?

A while back, I wrote a hot post (A Case Against Circumcision)†about a super controversial issue which CNN reports is showing up in the limelight now that a group seeking to ban circumcision of any male younger than 18 in San Francisco has succeeded in getting their measure on the November ballot. If passed, it would be illegal for a parent to choose to have a boy circumcised, and if he wanted it done, heíd have to wait until he was 18 to make his own choice. Failing to follow the law 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 — period.

Iím flatly anti-circumcision — boys or girls. As I laid out in my other post, I donít†believe we should be imposing our own plastic surgery notions on young boys without their consent. Why? Here are some thoughts.

7 Reasons Not To Circumcise Your Baby

  • Thereís absolutely no medical reason to do so. Contrary to popular belief, circumcision does not make the penis cleaner — it just crosses off one more area that needs attention in the shower. In spite of the hype to the contrary, studies show that it does not reduce the risk of STDs, bladder infections, penile cancer, or penis infections.
  • The surgery carries risks — and yes, while I have never been personally responsible for pulling a Lorena Bobbitt on a poor, defenseless baby, I have seen little boys get the ends of their penises cut off as the result of circumcision. And remember, if you give birth at a hospital that has residents, itís often the intern performing the circumcision!
  • Many swear that having foreskin helps prevent premature ejaculation and can lead to longer lovemaking.
  • The body was made with foreskin. Are we to assume it was an accident?
  • Most countries do not circumcise their boys. Why should we?
  • A person should have the right to choose whether they undergo a purely cosmetic surgery that cannot be undone.
  • Circumcision HURTS! While some swear that babies cannot feel, I have watched them when I cut their little foreskins. And they definitely feel pain. Maybe they donít remember it, but somewhere in their little budding psyches, they might. Do we really want a childís first experience in life to be this pain?

Most importantly, I believe we should be raising our children to believe that, unless they were born with a birth defect, they do not need surgery to fix what ainít broken. It horrifies me to hear about Moms giving their daughters Botox or teenagers getting nose jobs and plastic boobs or pinning back a childís ears. What message are we giving our children if we do such things? Do we really want them to grow up believing that theyíre not beautiful, perfect, and whole just the way God made them?

Thatís why I wrote my book Whatís Up Down There?. Thatís why Iím helping empowering young girls to grow up with a positive body image as a spokesperson for UbyKotex. Thatís why I started And thatís why Iím writing this post, because I want to encourage all people to heal, connect, thrive, and live comfortably in their skin.

If you look through the 200+ comments on “A Case Against Circumcision,” youíll read many stories of men who were circumcised against their will when they were babies who want their foreskins back. They feel violated, as if something that is their birthright to keep was unwittingly stolen from them, and they felt so appreciative that I wrote this article. The reaction of these men in the comments section of my post was so potent that it inspired CNN Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen to reach out to me and ask me to contact the men who commented on my post so she could interview them for this article.

So believe it or not, there are a whole bunch of men out there who call themselves ďinactivistsĒ and want their foreskin back. Your child could wind up being one of them.

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Lissa Rankin

Lissa Rankin, MD is a mind-body medicine physician, founder of the†Whole Health Medicine Institute training program for physicians and other health care providers, and the New York Times bestselling author of†Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself.† She is on a grassroots mission to heal health care, while empowering you to heal yourself.† Lissa blogs at† and also created two online communities -† and† She is also the author of two other books, a professional artist, an amateur ski bum, and an avid hiker. Lissa lives in the San Francisco Bay area with her husband and daughter.


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10:54AM PDT on May 20, 2015

Thanks Lissa.

4:08PM PST on Nov 25, 2014

It is a private matter up to the consent of the individual undergoing the operation. Since infants cannot give consent on a potentially risky surgery with no survival benefits other than a few rare exceptions, this should remain the right for a man to decide when he is 18. He will be the one living with his penis, not his parents.

1:26AM PST on Mar 8, 2014


It doesn't matter if male circumcision is the same as Female Genital Mutilation or not. They are both wrong. Cutting off a baby's pinky finger isn't the same as FGM, but it's just as wrong, too. My son is 26 years old. He called me a couple of weeks ago, and thanked me for NOT having him circumcised. Our (my wife's and my) reasoning was simple: we don't own our son's body. We were just caring for it until he was capable of doing so for himself. Therefore, we had no right to make permanent physical changes to his body for non-medical reasons. If, as an adult, he wants to be circumcised, he can do so. But, if we circumcised him, and he decided as an adult that he did NOT want to be circumcised, there would be nothing he could do about that. You can't "uncircumcise" yourself. People, even defenseless babies, own their own bodies. Finally, it is definitely NOT true that circumcision is not painful for babies. They scream vociferously, and struggle violently. That's why they have to be restrained for the "procedure" to be done. Every child has a right to arrive at adulthood with their bodies intact, unless there are valid medical reasons for making changes in it. YOUR religious beliefs do not give you the right to cut on SOMEONE ELSE'S body, not even your children. Male or female.

8:16PM PST on Mar 7, 2014

No-If she dies,it may take a whole week to find a replacement. That's the big difference I suppose. The guy you are talking about-it would take a day.

3:14PM PST on Jan 2, 2014

Yes. It's no different than female circumcision.

5:04AM PDT on Oct 18, 2013

Thanks for the article.

2:14PM PDT on May 16, 2012

I'm not sure where I stand on this issue.. I guess I will decide if I ever have a son.. Thank you for the info though..

2:07PM PDT on May 16, 2012

Circumcision is a personal decision, meaning it's a decision that should only be made by the person who owns the penis. Elective circumcision of a child is highly immoral and unethical. Doctors take oaths to do no harm. Circumcision not only harms but kills. Mohels are not doctors. They don't even need a high school diploma to practice circumcision. Not to mention, many mohels practice oral suction (metzitzah bpeh), meaning they put their mouth on the baby's penis after they circumcise them while it's a raw and open wound. That's how many Jewish infants contract herpes and why several have died from it. Why is this still legal in America?

6:48AM PST on Feb 4, 2012

This mutilation should be banned. All men should be able to make the decision for themselves.

2:47PM PST on Nov 30, 2011

it should be required

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