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San Francisco Banning Circumcision?

By HERWriter
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San Francisco is in the news again. Last week, it was the kids' meal toy ban and this week it is about banning circumcision.

The San Francisco Examiner states Lloyd Schofield is proposing a ballot measure to ban circumcision in the city of San Francisco. But to actually get the measure on the November 2011 ballot, Schofield will have to collect 7,168 signatures by April 26, 2011.

However, if the measure passes in November 2011, the measure would change San Francisco's police code to make it a misdemeanor to circumcise, cut or mutilate the foreskin, testicle or penis of another person who has not attained the age of 18. The punishment for those who choose to cut away anyway would be up to a $1,000 fine and up to one year in prison.

Schofield told KCBS-TV news, "It is genital mutilation. It's a man's body and his body doesn't belong to his culture, his government, his religion or even his parents. It's his decision." Also Schofield said, ʺa man should decide whether or not he wants to be circumcised and that the decision should not be made by anyone else.ʺ

According to the New York Times, the circumcision rate for newborn boys in the United States has dropped steadily over the last four years. Based on the largest review of U.S. rates ever completed, the CDC reported only 32 percent of boys underwent circumcision in 2009, down from 56 percent in 2006.

Some supporters of male circumcision say it leads to better hygiene and some say circumcised penises reduce the spread of H.I.V. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not come out for or against the practice. Scientists with the Centers for Disease Control are still studying whether circumcisions are a healthier choice and have promised recommendations to the public.

ʺMost medical groups have not come out with strong opinions regarding pro or con circumcisions, ʺ said CBS 5 medical reporter Dr. Kim Mulvihill. ʺMost are saying leave it up to the families, let them decide what’s right for their son.ʺ

ʺYou shouldn’t be performing cosmetic surgery for other people,ʺ said Schofield. Also, Schofield points out that female circumcision is currently banned but was once covered by Blue Cross insurance in the United States into the 1970s.

ʺTattooing a child is banned as a felony and circumcision is more harmful than a tattoo, ʺ said Schofield, who believes religious traditions should change. ʺPeople can practice whatever religion they want but your religious practice ends with someone else’s body.ʺ

How do you feel about circumcision? Is it genital mutilation? Also, how do you feel about the government telling you if you can or can’t circumcise your son?


Add a Comment31 Comments

Irrefutable evidence? Come on now. Do you believe everything scientists tell us when evidence shows otherwise? The USA had one of the highest rates of circumcision in the world while it also had among the highest rates of HIV infection. On the other hand, all the countries of Europe leave their males intact while enjoying lower rates of infection.

The truth is that there is money to be made in the process of chopping off foreskins in Africa.

April 11, 2011 - 12:12pm
EmpowHER Guest

The cut that fights HIV
December 03, 2008|Paul Perchal | Paul Perchal is the director of the HIV/STI Program for EngenderHealth, a global reproductive health organization active in more than 25 countries.

My downstairs neighbor, eight months pregnant, recently stopped me in the elevator to share her dilemma about whether to have her baby boy circumcised. For a growing number of American parents today -- particularly in urban centers like Los Angeles and New York -- the decision to cut or not to cut is not the foregone conclusion it used to be.

Forty years ago, the circumcision rate for newborn boys in the United States was 85%; today, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, it's about 56%, as more parents rethink whether circumcision is -- or ever was--necessary.

In sub-Saharan Africa, attitudes are moving in the other direction. There, circumcision is gaining a hold in communities where historically it has not been practiced, and there is good reason for the shift.

Irrefutable evidence now shows that male circumcision can reduce the risk of heterosexual HIV transmission by as much as 64%. The findings were so dramatic that National Institutes of Health clinical trials were stopped early because researchers deemed it unethical to deny the procedure to men in the control groups.

The data also compelled the governments of Botswana, Kenya and Rwanda -- countries where HIV is epidemic -- to endorse male circumcision in their health policies, a bold move in places with a multitude of ethnic groups unaccustomed to the idea. In Zambia, the government has launched a mass effort to increase access to hospital-based circumcision.

What's exciting about male circumcision as a way to reduce HIV risk is that it does not involve vaccines or new technologies, which regrettably are years away. Circumcision, which has been around for millenniums, could help fill the gap; however, like any public health initiative, it doesn't mean there won't be challenges in implementing it.

This is why, in countries where HIV devastates millions of lives, circumcision policies must be supported with appropriate resources, and government and health leaders must work with practitioners on the ground to make sure that the procedure is wholly beneficial and in no way harmful.

My neighbor, like other U.S. parents, knows that if she opts for the procedure, it will be performed safely, in a clean surgical environment, with anesthesia and antibiotics. This is not the case in places where HIV hits hardest. Support is needed in regions where health systems are weak so that health professionals are properly trained to perform circumcisions and always use sterile instruments.
What's more, to be truly effective, circumcision must be offered as part of an overall HIV prevention strategy, not as a stand-alone service. Information is essential: Men must understand that circumcision won't make them immune to HIV or other sexually transmitted infections, and that condom use is still crucial.

Without that kind of information campaign, male circumcision actually could be harmful for women in two key ways. First, men who are circumcised may believe that they do not need to use condoms. Second, money currently spent on HIV prevention efforts that involve and benefit both women and men may be shifted disproportionately to one that serves only men.

The science supporting male circumcision as an effective form of HIV prevention for female-to-male transmission is conclusive in countries with high rates of HIV. But it will take thoughtful planning on the part of policymakers and program managers to increase its availability. They must remember that, as with many public health efforts, what works in one community may not be appropriate in another, even for a practice as commonplace as circumcision.

Take the U.S., for example. When it comes to preventing HIV, the benefits of male circumcision are less clear. Here, HIV prevalence is markedly lower than in countries that are actively promoting the practice. And in the U.S., barely a quarter of HIV cases result from high-risk sex between men and women, which is the predominant mode of transmission in Kenya, Zambia and across Africa.

But for those to whom male circumcision makes sense, whether in a pediatric ward in Long Beach or a family clinic in Lilongwe, Malawi, there must be two constants: high-quality care and informed choice. Governments in particular have a careful line to toe as they promote circumcision -- one that remains respectful of existing traditions while ensuring safety for all men and boys who undergo the procedure, whether at the hands of a village elder or in the district hospital across the river.

As for my neighbor, she was grateful to still have one month to mull over her decision. What gave her comfort was knowing that her choice would be based on having full information and that her son would receive high-quality care. These are two factors that should never be compromised for anyone, anywhere.

April 10, 2011 - 12:47am
EmpowHER Guest

Only in SF really.. wanting to ban a practice that has been going on for more than 2500 years, that a few years ago only they decided to apply in Africa because it was proven to reduce the risk of HIV, and known for reducing the risks of STDs in general... and now you want to tell parents what's best for their children... so as a parent not circumcising my son would be the same as not teaching him anything, after all, just teaching is somewhat a modeling of the brain that is way worse than a physical change; the teaching of religion, and indoctrination and brainwashing, the love of the country, same thing, teaching the good and bad, same thing, who are we to tell what's good and bad as a cosmic level... And I can go on and on, the limit as I put it is the government and anyone else, stays outside My house, and makes no decision about me and my family.. If you disagree with that, then you shouldn't complain about the sugar in every food, the transfat, the pollution, and any other decision the government makes for you..
In my case I like to complain, and when it comes to My family, no one but me and my wife makes decision...

April 9, 2011 - 11:52pm
(reply to Anonymous)

Oh really? What if you decided to kill your child? Would anyone have a right to prevent that? How is this different. What you advocate is body modification through mutilation of the penis. I happen to think it is wrong to allow you to do that at your whim. There is and never has been a legitimate reason for removing the male foreskin. Each and every excuse ever given eventually was exposed as a scam. The only reason the practice still exists in America is the tremendous amount of revenue it generates, not only in fees charged, but in the trafficking of babies' foreskins for use in the cosmetic industry.

No sir, you don't have a right to remove healthy and functional tissue from your son. In doing so, you are violating his God given right to an intact body. You are very shallow in thinking that you own him. Children are not chattel.

April 11, 2011 - 12:09pm

I wish a law like this was in effect when I was born. I would still have my whole sex organ. I dislike being circumcised so much that I undid my circumcision by restoring my foreskin. The difference is amazing. I am much happier after restoring.

November 19, 2010 - 7:20pm

Parents who believe they have a right to mutilate the penis of a son are selfish and egocentric. Where are the baby's feelings in all of this? Afterall, he is the one being tied down and tortured. He's the one who has to live with diminishing sensations for the rest of this life. He's the one who is reminded of his blood letting initiating ceremony each and every time he takes his penis into his hand to urinate. He's the one who was betrayed by those he should have been able to trust to protect him from harm.

November 18, 2010 - 12:25pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to jimfromcalif)

You're a moron, I've been circumcised, and I as such I don't know that I've been betrayed, I don't know that i have less feeling and maybe more staying power, are you just jealous?.. are you coming too fast.. anyhow to me you're just another good meaning person who does more harm than good, another Chamberlain who should keep his tongue because he doesn't know sht but guess what, the world is full of you, so I don't blame you you talk too much and don't read enough,,, this isn't about you, it's between a parent and his child and G.d, but you're probably not a believer either, so not you're fault.. you're just uneducated that way...
you see if your parent had circumcised you, you would be in the other side of the isle today, simple as that.. Isn't it funny that most circumcised will tell you the same thing.. Just think about that before making any assumptions next time..

April 10, 2011 - 12:06am
(reply to Anonymous)

I just reread my comment and found no evidence of a claim to having been circumcised, so who is the idiot?

So you're happy. Great! Does that mean the thousands of men who lament their own circumcision should feel exactly as you do? Are you not aware of the foreskin restoration movement, one in which tens of thousands of men are involved? Are you not aware of the complaints of circumcised men who have lost so much sensitivity in their penises that sex is no longer enjoyable or even possible?

In reality, I do know about which I speak. I've listened to scores of the aforementioned men. An extremely high percentage of circumcised men would rather that their parents had left them whole.

By the way, God told everyone that they were to stop circumcising their sons two thousand years ago. That includes Jews and gentiles alike. The cross settled all of that, and it's in writing if you care to read it.

The responsibility of parents is to nurture and protect their children, not to bring them harm.

April 11, 2011 - 12:24pm
EmpowHER Guest

Maybe they should just circumcise in-utero. That way the baby's choice doesn't yet matter correct? I see the point in the baby choosing whether or not to have this procedure but let's be morally consistent here. The baby doesn't have a choice about whether he/she will be born, aborted, who his/her parents are, whether they are ready to be parents. Where is the line?

November 18, 2010 - 9:16am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

Exactly where's the line, where have you seen anywhere that it harms the baby? I can argue the opposite easily... But in the end the question is who is in charge and care more of the child, you or his parents??

April 10, 2011 - 12:08am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.



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