Thursday, March 04, 2010

Massachusetts Legislature: Circumcision Should Be A Crime

That would be the result of the bill currently under consideration in Massachusetts:
The "Male Genital Mutilation Bill" made its way to the floor for debate today at the State Legislature. The bill would make it illegal for parents to circumcise boys in the state of Massachusetts unless there is a medical reason.

Matthew Hess, president of a group called the Bill to End Male Genital Mutilation, was quoted by the Boston Herald as saying, "Circumcision is painful and unnecessary, violates a baby's human rights and decreases sexual sensation in mature males."

...Under the legislation, people who disregard the ban would face a fine and possible 14-year prison sentence. [emphasis added]
Medical reasons would be allowed--it has already been reported that religious reasons would not.
And this is not the first time that a state legislature ventured into religious territory:
Meanwhile, just a year ago this week, two very powerful state legislators in Connecticut proposed a bill that would have had the government take over the finances of the Catholic Church. (It took a rally drawing thousands of folks to the state capitol to persuade them to withdraw the measure.)

How did we reach the point where powerful people seriously consider such outrageous intrusions on religious liberty? These "shots across the bow" are skirmishes in a larger war between a newly triumphant liberalism and older American values, including pluralism, conscience protection and respect for religious liberty.
Besides the fact that there are issues of the economy that should probably take precedence, if Obama's election sent out a flare that these sorts of issues are now open to the government to delve into--Obama's numbers in the polls should be advising them otherwise.

You can read the text of the bill here.

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13 comments:

Mark Lyndon said...

Regardless of the parents' religious beliefs, it's illegal to cut the prepuce off a baby girl, or to make any incision on her gen1tals, even without removing any tissue. Why don't boys get the same protection? Everyone should be able to decide for themselves whether they want parts of their gen1tals cut off or not.

No-one complained when it was made illegal to do it to girls, so why is it a big deal for boys to get the same rights over their own body?

His body - his decision.

Daled Amos said...

Regardless of the parents' religious beliefs, it's illegal to cut the prepuce off a baby girl, or to make any incision on her gen1tals, even without removing any tissue. Why don't boys get the same protection?

I suppose part of the reason is the rationale behind it. My understanding is that the practice of 'female circumcision' has to do with controlling a woman and her libido.

Circumcision in general has certain medical benefits. Jewish circumcision is a religious practice that is not sexist or racist in nature and symbolic of a covenant with G_d.

Everyone should be able to decide for themselves whether they want parts of their gen1tals cut off or not.

Obviously, you are not referring to the Jewish circumcision done at 8 days.

There are legal cases surrounding older children where the issue is thrown into the purview of the court where your point carries much more weight.

Also, I think that describing Brit Milah as having "parts of their gen1tals cut off" is misleading.

No-one complained when it was made illegal to do it to girls, so why is it a big deal for boys to get the same rights over their own body?

His body - his decision.


I think part of the big deal is that this issue falls into the thin line between religious law/freedom of religion and civil law.

DK said...

Jewish circumcision is a religious practice that is not sexist or racist in nature and symbolic of a covenant with G_d.


How is MGM NOT sexist? That makes no sense at all.

My understanding is that the practice of 'female circumcision' has to do with controlling a woman and her libido.

Want a list of classical Jewish commentators including the RAMBAM who say the same thing for male circumcision?

Daled Amos said...

DK,

I wrote that "My understanding is that the practice of 'female circumcision' has to do with controlling a woman and her libido."

That is, controlling a woman--not as a means of self-control, the latter being more elevating, as in the case of Brit Milah, as explained by the commentators you refer to.

Brit Milah is not sexist because it does not denigrate men--something that cannot be said about female circumcision.

Migz623 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
TLC Tugger said...

Circumcision always removes about half the male's sensual nerve endings and around 15 square inches of surface area, plus it eliminates the frictionless rolling/gliding mode of stimulation and leaves the glans and mucosal parts unprotected fro the drying and abrasive effects of clithing and air. The amputation changes sex dramatically.

Bill supporters feel that all people share the same basic human right to determine for themselves which exquistitely evolved pleaure receptors they get to keep.

There is no medical emergency that warrants amputating anything, which is why not one national medical association on earth (not even Israel's) endorses routine infant genital cutting.

When you compare it to FGM and say that's worse or for different reasons, understand that FGMs cover a wide range of severity. Even a pin-poke to draw one ceremonial drop of blood is illegal for girls.

He's healthy and normal. Foreskin feels REALLY good. HIS body, HIS decision.

Lifer08 said...

Because a lot of parents are incompetent idiots. Any moron can have a kid, being a parent is not a qualification. Racist skinheads, drug dealers and pedophiles are all completely able to have kids.

What's the problem with not having your boy circumcised? He's free to get it done himself when he's an adult if he wants it so badly.

Isy said...

Getting circumsized in an older age can only complicate things. It's more painful and leaves a long term memory. Also there is greater chance for complications the older you get. Medically speaking alone, I think it's better to be cercumsized in an early age.

Lifer08 said...

That doesn't add up to me, we can't be sure that exposure to extreme pain doesn't a negative impact on the development of newborns.

Why would you have a higher chance of a botched procedure with a penis being much larger to work with as opposed to a newborns' delicate eighth of an inch?

There have been many recorded cases of infants dying and having their penises deformed or destroyed in the procedure. Google David Reimer.

I haven't seen any sources providing evidence for there being a higher risk of problems at an older age, I'm curious what your sources are.

Daled Amos said...

Migz623

Wow, that's pretty strange. Why is it that the government will stay out of our business when it comes to terminating a pregnancy, but not when it comes to this?

I assume the rationale is that in the former, it is the person's own body; in the latter--an 8 day old is not in a position to have a say, so the government may feel a need to intervene.

-----

Ron

Circumcision always removes about half the male's sensual nerve endings and around 15 square inches of surface area, plus it eliminates the frictionless rolling/gliding mode of stimulation and leaves the glans and mucosal parts unprotected fro the drying and abrasive effects of clithing and air. The amputation changes sex dramatically.

15 square inches? What is your source. "Amputation" is a loaded an inaccurate term--we are not talking here about an entire organ being removed.

Bill supporters feel that all people share the same basic human right

We are talking about an 8 day old --talking about rights, in its strictly legal sense does not apply. Neither do considerations of the pleasures of sex.

which is why not one national medical association on earth (not even Israel's) endorses routine infant genital cutting.

Are you saying the medical associations in Israel all advise against Brit Milah?

HIS body, HIS decision

Did I mention that we are (or at least I am) talking about an 8 day old?

-----

Lifer08

He's free to get it done himself when he's an adult if he wants it so badly.

In the case of Brit Milah--which is the only case I am interested in--waiting till the child is a grownup is not an option.

Lifer08

we can't be sure that exposure to extreme pain doesn't a negative impact on the development of newborns.

Extreme pain? We are talking about the foreskin, not a part of the genital itself.

Considering that Brit Milah has a 4,000 year old history behind to commend it--starting from when it was done with a sharp stone--I don't see it as being quite that problematic.

There have been many recorded cases of infants dying and having their penises deformed or destroyed in the procedure. Google David Reimer.

Again, my interest is in Brit Milah. You bring 1 case, and the circumstances are very different:

David Reimer was born as a male identical twin in Winnipeg, Manitoba. His birth name was Bruce; his twin brother was named Brian. At the age of 6 months, after concern was raised about how both twins urinated, both boys were diagnosed with phimosis. They were referred for circumcision at the age of 8 months. On April 27, 1966, a Urologist performed the operation using the unconventional method of cauterization. The procedure did not go as doctors had planned, and David Reimer's penis was burned beyond surgical repair.

We are talking about a surgical procedure done in an admittedly unconventional manner.

It is a tragic case--he later committed suicide--but not one directly related to the discussion.

Lifer08 said...

"Extreme pain? We are talking about the foreskin, not a part of the genital itself."

That's complete misinformation, of course the foreskin is part of the genitals.

Reimer is far from the only case of death from circumcision, but I don't have the time to thoroughly research brit milah although there's clearly an argument against the much less common practice of oral suction.

TLC Tugger said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
TLC Tugger said...

Hi,
Daled Amos: ^^ 15 square inches? What is your source? ^^

It's simple geometry. Say a modest adult glans is 1.5" long and 1.6" across. That gives rise to a circumference of 5" and a skin tube length of 3" (because the cut-off skin starts just below the glans, reaches out past it, and doubles back) and 3" x 5" is 15 square inches. It's a very conservative number. 20 square inches is probably more typical of what's lost.

Daled Amos: ^^ "Amputation" is a loaded an inaccurate term ^^

Call it excision then. It's still hacking off part of the body of someone who has not consented.

Daled Amos: ^^ We are talking about an 8 day old --talking about rights, in its strictly legal sense does not apply. Neither do considerations of the pleasures of sex. ^^

Why do these things matter for girls, then? Nobody is against FGM because it hurts an infant's sex life. They are concerned about the sexual adult she will become.

Daled Amos: ^^ Are you saying the medical associations in Israel all advise against Brit Milah? ^^

I'm saying THE Israel Medical Association does not have a policy recommending infant circumcision for medical reasons. They do host an article about babies getting herpes during circumcision.

HIS body, HIS decision

Daled Amos: ^^ Did I mention that we are talking about an 8 day old? ^^

Did I mention that babies are people who will grow to rational adulthood, at which time they can decide for themselves?