|Could government involvement|
make your parental rights go up
This is not meant to turn into a debate over whether the act of circumcision is right or not, as both sides of the argument, in their own eyes, have a very valid point. This is a debate over whether an entity other than the parents and the doctor - in this case, a city government - should be allowed to have a say in what you do with your child.
In this case, it seems that Lloyd Schofield - the guy who is bringing the debate to the forefront - thinks it does indeed take a "village to raise a child." Should that village have a voice in your parenting decisions if this issue is on the ballot?
I think that if this measure passes, it could be a mixed victory for circumcision opponents.
Whether you think it's right or wrong, it's really not your decision to make. Whether it's for cleanliness issues, a matter of religion or just because, when it comes down to whether it should be done or not is not a decision the public at large should have a say in.
In certain cases, it is definitely not recommended - such as when the baby's health is compromised. If the parents aren't aware of the dangers, it should be a joint effort of parents and the doctor to be educated on the risks and potential benefits, and the doctor should say up front, "Your child has this condition, and if you're considering circumcising him, perhaps you should reconsider."
When you talk about banning something like this, it is essentially ramming the ideology of one group down the throats of those who don't agree, and if the shoe were on the other foot, you can bet that wouldn't go over too well.
Take, for instance, the birth of Ruth Light, whose parents are currently engaged in endless court battles to regain full custody of their daughter. Ruth was born in a breech presentation at home, and experienced a brief shoulder dystocia, but was otherwise declared healthy and recovered from it. Her parents, being cautious and wanting to make sure she was well, took her to the hospital after her birth, where the physician declared that she was fine.
However, somewhere along the way a well-meaning, perhaps uninformed hospital worker decided that Ruth's birth problems could have been avoided had she been born in the "safety" of a hospital via cesarean, and children's services were dispatched. Ruth was removed from her parents' custody as a result.
Compare the home birth debate to the circumcision debate for a moment: one side says it's safe, and presents few complications when managed well. The other side says it's dangerous, presents complications that could result in death, and should be outlawed.
In both cases, there have been studies that declare it reasonably safe. And there have been studies that say it's dangerous and should be avoided at all costs. Which one should we believe, in either case?
Ultimately, yes - it's a human rights issue on one level, I'm not going to argue with that. But it's also a parents' rights issue, and as the caregivers responsible for that child, they are going to make choices on behalf of their children that could affect their lives, whether perceived as great or small. Atheist or Christian, meat-eating or vegan, we make choices for our kids every day, and dismiss them as just merely decisions that we make in raising our children the way we see fit. The choice not to vaccinate? Perceived as dangerous by some, there are currently laws on the books - as mandated by the government, in certain states - to have your daughter receive the Gardisil vaccine. Considering there have been reports of injury and even death regarding the vaccine, should you be forced by the state to vaccinate your child anyway? Or should you exercise your parental authority on behalf of your child?
Ultimately, whether you like the idea or not, you can't stop people from doing what they want to do. I'm guessing that any parent could simply locate a doctor outside the San Francisco city limits and get their child circumcised, if they felt that strongly about it. This same type of legislation could be used against parents, essentially weakening or severing altogether their authority to make decisions for their children.
Given our currently litigious society and the escalating role of government in our lives, and I can see this getting out of hand very quickly. In some ways, the Orwellian aspect of it has already taken over: forced c-sections, VBAC bans, pregnant women kicked out of bars because it's potentially risky to their unborn child (even though the mother in question didn't consume alcohol). (Let's not forget that some medical authorities consider it safe to drink wine occasionally while pregnant - are we going to publicly shackle women who adhere to this idea?) Where do you draw the line? Who's kid is this, anyway?
Why not outlaw formula feeding because it's dangerous and unhealthy and is inferior to breastmilk. After all, some babies have died from it - whether from contaminated water or from the very product itself. Piercing your infant daughter's ears? Doesn't matter if it's for religious or cultural reasons, it should be outlawed because it's for vanity reasons, can cause infection, and is not medically necessary. How about co-sleeping, because some people think it's dangerous? How about banning epidurals because they could potentially harm the baby? We could go on and on.
Those Happy Meal bans were instituted because the city wants McDonald's to put in healthier foods. Does that mean it'll soon extend to limiting parents' right to take their kids to McDonald's? Should we limit them to one visit per family per month in an effort to force them into healthier eating? Or how about we place them under house arrest and jail them if they don't feed their kids all organic, nutritious food once they're in the privacy of their own home?
Regardless of where we stand on the issue itself, I just wish people could see that involving government in the matter is not necessarily the best course of action. Beating someone over the head with your argument will not effectively convince them to rethink their stance so much as it will perhaps make the other side look like a bunch of crazy zealots. Nor will it help to infringe on the religious views of parents who circ for those reasons (separation of church and state, anyone?). A wide-scale education campaign, perhaps - starting in your obstetrician's office - is perhaps a kinder, gentler idea that will win more parents over and leave more little boys intact.
'Intactivists' to San Francisco: Ban Circumcision
San Francisco Circumcision Ban Unconstitutional, Professor Says
The 'Crappy Meal,' from Comedy Central: meant to be funny, but an interesting look into what the city can and can't force people to do