“I’m glad I don’t remember it!” That’s usually the response when one brings up the topic of circumcision to most American men. Luckily for most people, studies have suggested that the earliest memories humans can recall are from around 2-3 years old.

Debates are heating up in San Francisco in anticipation for a measure on the November ballot, which proposes a ban on male circumcision. Intact America, an anti-circumcision group who call themselves “intactivists,” wants to raise awareness about their stance that parents and doctors are violating children’s rights by circumcising them before they are aware of what’s happening to their genitalia and can give consent.

The LA Times reported the story and allowed advocates on both sides of the debate to state their cases in the newspaper. Georganne Chapin, the founding executive director of Intact America, claims that circumcision is not medically necessary and causes more harm to males than is reported.

Chapin states:

Under bioethical principles, parental consent for the medical treatment is permitted only if the treatment being considered will save the life or health of the child….There are medical risks involved with circumcision. The baby loses the protective function of the foreskin, which means that the head of the penis can build up extra layers of skin, or the baby could develop skin ridges, a bent penis or sexual dysfunction later in life.

On the other side of the debate, circumcision is regarded as a procedure that helps the male penis remain sanitary well into older age. Advocates assert that circumcised males will benefit from the “snipping” when they become sexually active, finding themselves somewhat better protected than their uncircumcised counterparts from HIV, herpes, syphilis, and penile cancer.

Harvard School of Public Health lecturer Daniel Halperin professes that the benefits of male circumcision far out weigh any potential mental or physiological damage detractors may contend happens to infants. In underprivileged countries across the globe, where access to Western standards of hygiene are in an increasingly higher demand, studies have demonstrated the importance of circumcising boys:

In Africa, there have been three randomized trials — two published in the journal Lancet in 2007 and one in the journal PLoS Medicine in 2005 — demonstrating that circumcision reduces heterosexual HIV infection in men by at least 60%. The foreskin provides a ready access to cells that are the entry point for HIV because the skin there is very soft and permeable, making it more vulnerable to infection. The area underneath the foreskin is also humid and provides a hospitable environment for infections, whereas they can’t proliferate as well on the dry skin of the circumcised penis.

Both arguments seem convincing, and with new research that is starting to recognize the significance of infant trauma, and how it affects the development of human personality, this debate will not calm down anytime soon.

FrugiVoice: Where do you stand on male circumcision? Is it a necessary evil? Or should children be protected and allowed to make the decision once they are fully cognizant of what happening to their bodies?

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  1. I never thought about this before. I really never even considered the other side of the argument until now. From a woman’s perspective, we want the best for our child, and since children can’t speak for themselves, it seems we, as parents, have to go with what truely believe is the best for our kids.

  2. Parents should research circumcision and make an informed decision for the health & well-being of their son.

    Male circumcision is a safe, popular, healthy & beneficial procedure for individuals & parents to choose. It provides benefits such as 12x less likely for UTI, +22x less likely for cancer, 28% less risk for herpes, 35% for HPV & 60% for HIV/AIDS. The risks are about 0.2% and are typically minor & easily corrected.

  3. I think it’s better to get it done early so there is no memory of the trauma. Science has proven the benefits so there’s a good chance that he would choose to do it anyway so why not save him from the PTSD????

    Also, we all know little boys (and men lol) aren’t always the cleanest so it’s very likely that the area would not be cleaned properly and become a breeding ground for germs and bacteria… #IJS

  4. The hygiene reason is ridiculous. Girls have greater area of moist inner surfaces and we don’t amputate them. Water, not amputation, is the cure.

    The HIV “reason” is just as suspect. It is just one in a long list of rationale doctors have given to cut baby boys beginning over a century ago with curbing masturbation and preventing syphillis, to more recently with false claims that it prevents penile cancer. Besides, studies done in first-world countries show that circumcision has no effect on HIV rates.

    We protect girls from genital harm, and rightly so, boys deserve the same protection. Let’s stop this sexism and gender inequity.

    Parents considering infant circumcision should REALLY check out Circumcision Decision-Maker. It takes you through each of your reasons for wanting circumcision one at a time and then gives you some expert opinion. It also has a lot of information on penis anatomy, how the foreskin develops, circumcision, and care of the intact penis including washing instructions.


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