rumpelstiltskin: Look up the statistics on botched circumcisions. You’re talking about something like between 2% and 10%, depending on what study you look at, with over a million circumcisions per year. Literally TENS OF THOUSANDS of cases of messed up circumcisions. You can’t possibly compare that to the future potential for a few hundred cases of penile cancer, many of which are also contingent upon lack of hygiene and STDs
leo marvin: Do we really want parents feeling like they need an opinion letter before they can risk exercising good faith judgment about their children’s best interest?
The issue of parental rights over their children as property is a fraught one. The assumption has been that unless otherwise proven to the contrary, the parental judgement about what is right for the child should prevail.
The question is about “unless otherwise proven”.
- The removal of legs from children so they will have successful careers as beggars, a common practice in much of the 3rd world. It is for the good of the child.
- The binding of the feet of little girls, breaking the bones so they will have “lilly feet”, more attractive to men, and so they will not be different from their peers.
- FGM of course, ranging from a cosmetic nick to the clitoral hood, to complete removal of the external genitalia.
- Castration of boys so they will not be tempted into the sin of Onanism, and so imperill their immortal souls.
- Sex-reassignment of Intersexed children, often sterilising them and leaving them with insensate genitalia, but at least it looks normal so they won’t be bullied at school and won’t be rejected by their parents.
All “for their own good”. All actually practiced in many parts of the world, some of them not just common, but nigh universal in the USA.
I’m currently involved in a Legal Reform effort in the Australian Capital Territory. Current thinking is that parental rights to alter their child’s body are conferred only by objective medical neccessity. If it does harm, it’s not permitted.
This puts us on a collision course with the religious beliefs of a significant fraction of the community. It may be that in a purely practical “harm reduction” model, that fewer problems would be caused by de-criminalising un-neccessary circumcision, in order to reduce complications from backyard, covert procedures. That should really be the test. The medical evidence against circumcision is overwhelming: it’s the complication rate that’s the problem, it’s many orders of magnitude worse than even the most optimistic claims for circumcision’s efficacy at preventing disease, a claim that is very debateable but I think has to be accepted given the deeply-held beliefs of many.
Ritual clitoral hood nicking may also have to be permitted, if we’re not to have backyard infibulations with broken glass.
“Normalisation” surgery on Intersexed children, which is often (1/3 of the time for most conditions) the “wrong way”, usually lumbering little boys with female bodies, should be forbidden. Only genital reconstruction to provide urinary and fecal continence, to reduce pain, or to remove an immediate (not long-term post-pubescent) cancer risk or similar medical neccessity is allowable.
The opposite side of the coin is that when the child is Gillick-competent, or reaches the age of consent, or is otherwise judged to be competent enough to make decisions (younger if supported by medical experts and parents), then they should be allowed such surgery.
I hope that it would be possible for circumcision in the Jewish Faith to be part of the leadup to Bar Mitzvah — a procedure performed (or not performed) with the boy’s informed consent between the ages of 12 and 13. A compromise between medical facts and religious belief.
I really hate arrogantly riding roughshod over others beliefs. But the ones that are most important are the children, and the record of parents when it comes to genital modification of their children is quite frankly bloody appalling.