The City of San Francisco will, this fall, vote on whether or not to ban the circumcision of a male minor. If passed, the act will become a misdemeanor.
Does the government have the right to infringe upon the parent's prerogative to circumcise their minor son?
Yes. No one has the right to choose non-medically-necessary (elective) surgery resulting in permanent alteration of the body for anyone else.
Even the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends against routine circumcision.
In the absence of clear benefits or a medical indication (such as hypospadias, or adhesions), and in light of the risks of the procedure itself, the decision to circumcise ought to be left to the individual himself (at such a time as he is capable of making this decision--adulthood).
Of course parents have the right to put their children through surgeries or other permanent medical procedures when there is a clear medical indication for it, and when they have determined that the benefits outweigh the risks. Indeed, my own parents made the decision to put me through eye surgery when I was a child, and it was a proper exercise of their responsibilities as my parents. I am clearly better off today for having had the procedure (I would probably have gone blind in one of my eyes had I not had the surgery).
But decisions about permanent alterations of the body when not medically indicated ought to be left for the child and the child alone to make when he is fully capable of making such decisions.
A legal ban on non-medically-necessary circumcisions protects the rights of individuals to make this decision for themselves.
Full disclosure: I have two sons, one of whom is circumcised. I wish we'd considered our decision to circumcise our first son in light of his right as an individual to make decisions about his own body.
Absolutely yes. Circumcision is an ancient, barbaric practice which has somehow survived to the present day due to ignorance and conformity with tradition.
The kind of circumcision we are talking about is the mutilation of the body of an intact, healthy baby boy.
This issue is not about whether the boy can remember the pain. It's not even about the pain as such. It's about the injury. Should it be legal to physically and permanently injure a healthy baby?
The answer is an obvious and outraged NO!, but our culture keeps on doing it for no good reason. We only do it because our parents did it to us.
This ancient barbarism must stop.
No. Does circumcision violate the rights or ability of a child to have a full, rational, successful life? Does circumcision inhibit or permanently scar the child's mind or body from full development?
Circumcision is fundamentally a cosmetic, arbitrary, and inconsequential procedure when considered in the context of a person's mind (our primary tool of survival) and the age of the child when it typically occurs (when the child has no memory of the pain, if done without any anethesia).
I happen to think the practice and procedure is misguided and irrational, since it is based on religious traditions that have no medical or biological basis or need today. But I also think it's impossible to show that the child's rights to life and liberty as an adult have been compromised or restricted in any meaningful way. Thus, the government has no justification in preventing parents from having this procedure performed on their son.