Banning Circumcision in San Francisco

March 7th, 2011 § 2 comments

The news is heating up lately over one San Franciscan’s attempts to ban circumcision in his city.  Is circumcision so bad that it’s worth banning?  Studies support health benefits of circumcision, including reducing the risk of human papilloma virus in men and cancer of the cervix in their female partners and lessening the chance of urinary tract infections in boys.  Three large studies in Africa (Auvert, Gray and Bailey) all show that circumcision cuts by half the risk of transmission of HIV from a woman to a man.

Foreskin contains nerve endings lost during circumcision, but removing it can’t be seriously equated to clitorectomy, the practice in some cultures of removing a girl’s clitoris at birth.  The equivalent of clitoretomy in the male would be to remove the entire glans penis, which would obviously have profound consequences on sexual sensation.  The question is, does removing the foreskin inflict such harm to a young boy that it ought to be prohibited?  LIke all medical questions, the answer comes from weighing the risks against the benefits.

The majority of circumcised men would tell you that their penises work fine without the foreskin, and so the risk of circumcision, while there, is small.  The benefits, lessening the chance of infection and cancer, are real.  It seems to me that parents choosing to circumcise their newborn boys are balancing the benefits against the risks and making a sensible choice.  If the voters in San Francisco do get a chance to vote on a ban on circumcision, I hope that they preserve that choice for parents.

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§ 2 Responses to Banning Circumcision in San Francisco"

  • Sean says:

    I understand and respect that there are medical reasons that support circumcision, however I still think that each man should be able to decide for himself whether he will be circumcised. Why make that choice for him? I was circumcised at birth, and while my penis still works, I would have rather been given the ability to make that choice myself. After all, it is my penis.

    Most hygienic issues associated with being ‘uncut’ are easily mitigated with soap and water. Most of us shower daily, so I can’t see this being much of an issue. With proper cleansing the risk of UTI’s should be lessened as well. By teaching our boys about healthy sexuality and safe sex practices, the increased risk of HIV transmission associated with being uncut should be lessened because they would ideally make sensible sexual choices and use condoms. Most European men are uncircumcised and as far as I can tell, their health outcomes have not been negatively impacted. Please correct me if I am wrong.

    I realize the following does not represent every parent out there, but I know a lot of who chose to circumcise their boys so that they look like daddy. This is an awful reason to circumcise a child and doesn’t show any level of critical thought.

    Let men make their own educated choice based their own feelings, values and lifestyles.

    • maledoc says:

      Hi Sean, I respect your arguments, but I believe that circumcision should not be banned based on what I wrote in this post. I appreciate your considered and thoughtful comments.