Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Danish Ban on Circumcision: The Debate Continues

In a previous article, I voiced my objection to a proposed Danish law that would ban circumcision before the age of fifteen. Its proponents equate so called female circumcision, which often involves complete removal of the outer genitalia.( Wikipedia article on female genital mutilation)

I received the following e mail which is a succinct articulation of the anti circumcision position.

I think it's a fair law. ALL infants should be protected from any genital modification. Unless it's an absolutely pressing medical reason, their genitals should be left alone until they can choose what happens.

Notice the subtle equation of circumcision with female genital mutilation. Doctors and religious scholars disagree strongly with such judgments.

Female genital mutilation has no scriptural support in Muslim or Jewish law. It has extensive medical drawbacks that are sometimes fatal.

Circumcision of males is a tradition going back thousands of years. It has its medical proponents and opponents. The arguments are out there. They are too lengthy to go into here. Parents should have a right when there are proponents and opponents of a procedure with medical authority to back them up to make a choice on behalf of their child.

It is a basic right of parents to make medical, religious and educational decisions for their children. Some aspects of such choices are by nature irreversible.

I am highly suspicious of any encroachment upon religious upbringing. Circumcision cannot be separated from that. It seems highly likely that the attack on circumcision is religious and cultural rather than medical. If the issue were purely medical then the opponents of operating on the genitalia of minors would be up in arms about sex change operations on children. Surely offering irreversible anatomical modifications to minors should not be attempted before counseling is offered. Yet these opponents of circumcision do not show up for the sex change debate. What is really being debated here? I wonder.

What is being attempted is the nullification of Judaism and Islam's legal standing. It is being attempted I believe as a calculated attack on the freedom of their followers to educate their children in the faith of their ancestors. As such it is an attempt to wipe out Judaism and Islam.

There are customs that are negotiable. There are aberrations that are done in the name of religious faith. Circumcision is neither. Its opponents seek to abrogate the right of parents to make medical and educational decisions for their minor children. I do not believe it will stop at Jewish and Islamic religious practices. This is an attack on all people of faith. It should be opposed by all who believe in freedom of religion and the sanctity of the family

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