Friday, January 23, 2009

Vermin, Circumcision and Love

First, Love.




Second, I'm having a disagreement with someone. I am firmly in opposition to any circumcision - male or female. (I'm also against piercing a baby's ears). I feel that it's a matter of informed choice and for adults to perform an unnecessary body modification is not respectful of another's body. Someone that I know who is Jewish is having a discussion with me about how to choose between the moral issue of hurting an infant vs. the moral dilemma of their religion's covenant with God. I know there's a lot of people out there who have done alternative bris and such, but I'm sure I'll come against this issue again, and am interested to hear what people have to say. If I get her permission to post part of her reply, I"ll post it here.

Also, the damn mouse must go. It is pooping everywhere and I am unable to live in harmony with this critter.

8 comments:

ms. kitty said...

I sympathize with your dilemma, Kelly, but when I read the line about the mouse, I flashed on my wireless mouse which has been giving me trouble and I didn't realize you meant a real mouse until the pooping part! Thanks for a chuckle.

Kelly KH said...

Too funny about the mouse! I have definitely had that kind of mouse problem too and I hope you are able to resolve it soon!

Hugh7 said...

There is an excellent book on the history of Jewish circumcision, "Marked in your Flesh" by a Jewish anthropologist, Leonard Glick.

See also The Case for Brit without Milah.

Mark Lyndon said...

These sites are all run by Jewish people opposed to circumcision:

http://www.jewishcircumcision.org/
http://www.jewsagainstcircumcision.org/
http://www.circumcision.org/

Steve Caldwell said...

Kelly wrote:
-snip-
"I am firmly in opposition to any circumcision - male or female. (I'm also against piercing a baby's ears). I feel that it's a matter of informed choice and for adults to perform an unnecessary body modification is not respectful of another's body."

Kelly,

The research isn't conclusive yet because it's still a work in progress. However, there is some research evidence that suggests male circumcision reduces male risk of HIV infection.

If the body modification in male circumcision has a positive public health outcome, then perhaps infant circumcision would be ethically the same as other infant "body modifications" done in the name of public health (e.g. immunization).

Mark Lyndon said...

It's not like HIV strikes people at random - you have to be having unsafe sex with an HIV+ partner for circumcision to make any difference. Even then, there are six African countries where the intact men in those countries are less likely to be HIV+ than the circumcised men. The two continents with the highest circumcision rates are also the same two continents with the highest HIV rates. HIV+ men are more likely to infect women if they are circumcised btw.

I'm never going to get HIV, and I would be mad as heck if someone had cut off part of my penis to protect me against it.

Infants don't have sex anyway, and circumcision performed later is safer, hurts less, and the results are cosmetically better. Most importantly, the person concerned can decide for themselves if they want part of their genitals cutting off.

There's stronger evidence that female circumcision reduces the risk of HIV btw, but we wouldn't suggest promoting that.

Raelynn said...

There is a big difference between biblical circumcision and the radical circumcisions performed today. Rabbis began doing radical circumcisions to prevent Jewish men from restoring their foreskins to compete in the Greek games (which were played nude, and the exposed glans was considered obscene). I have a couple of Jewish friends who had no idea that the circumcision practice today is not what was in the bible.

http://www.fisheaters.com/circumcision2.html

trmpetplaya said...

"If the body modification in male circumcision has a positive public health outcome, then perhaps infant circumcision would be ethically the same as other infant "body modifications" done in the name of public health (e.g. immunization)."

What part of the body does immunization amputate? What other parts of the body do we remove at birth just in case they might possibly have a potential problem later in life that removal might possibly potentially prevent?

As a Christian, I would never circumcise my sons even if it did help "prevent" HIV (I've personally read those studies and find them sorely lacking). My sons will only be at risk for HIV if they engage in risky behaviors. If, as an adult, they go against everything that I have taught them (which is a definite possibility, I acknowledge that) and decide to be promiscuous then *at that time* they can look at the evidence (which should be greater in a few years anyhow if indeed there *is* a protective effect). Then they can decide for themselves whether or not they want to go under general anesthesia, have their foreskin amputated (which they will not even remember due to the general anesthesia), and control the pain afterwards with medication. I have a friend who did just that at age 20 and it wasn't a big deal for him.

However, I will not put a newborn baby of mine through the pain of an un-anesthetized surgery which literally creates an open wound inside a diaper (doesn't sound very clean or sanitary now, does it?) just in case he decides to make poor lifestyle choices later in life. I think better of my children than that. I believe in education rather than amputation. I hope that if my sons do decide to become promiscuous later in life that they choose condoms instead of amputation (though the option to amputate is certainly still open to them) since condoms are still infinitely more effective even if circumcision does have the greatest protective effect researchers claim. I plan to teach all of my children - male and female - effective ways to protect themselves if they do decide to gamble with their lives.

My in-laws chose to leave my husband exactly the way he was born. How tragic it would have been for them to amputate 1/3 of the skin on his penis (yep, the foreskin is quite a large bit of the adult penis and is VERY integral to how it functions) to "prevent" HIV when he ended up being with only one woman (me - and I only with him) and has never engaged in risky sexual practices.

In conclusion, since positive public health outcomes can be more effectively obtained with a non-surgical solution (condoms) and since men can always choose to be circumcised later in life, I cannot imagine why anyone would ever want to surgically alter their newborn child to possibly potentially prevent their child (who might even end up being monogamous or practicing safe-sex and never even being at high risk for HIV) from contracting HIV.

All the best to you!
~B.