San Francisco residents may vote on a ballot measure next year that would outlaw circumcision.
The initiative, which requires 7,000 signatures before it can be added to next November’s ballot, would make it a misdemeanor to “circumcise, excise, cut or mutilate the…genitals” of all minors, and would not make exceptions for religious reasons.
The decision to permanently remove a boy’s foreskin should not be made by parents, says Lloyd Shofield, the proposal’s author.
“People can practice whatever religion they want, but your religious practice ends with someone else’s body,” Schofield told CBS affiliate KCBS. “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.”
But some parents interviewed by KCBS disagreed.
“It’s your choice, it’s your child…government can’t rule us on everything we do,” said Heather Wisnicky. The Sacramento mother told the news station that she had her son circumcised just 3 weeks prior. “It’s a health issue. It’s cleaner,” Wisnicky said.
In July, a researcher from the Centers for Disease Control presented statistics showing that just 32% of boys underwent the procedure in 2009. While the figure does not include circumcisions done outside of medical facilities, it’s a precipitous drop from the 56% of boys who were circumcised three years earlier in 2006.
Some supporters of male circumcision argue that the practice helps stop the spread of HIV and is more hygenic. Opponents say it can be painful and robs men of greater sexual sensation. The CDC has not yet released a recommendation for or against the practice.
In 2009, New York magazine published a series of stories and testimonials from parents and men who were both pro- and anti-circumcision. The strong opinions and the detailed description of the procedure are worth a read.
WATCH: KCBS report on circumcision ballot initiative