Circumcision: The Outlaw Cut?

When Shakespeare spoke of Brutus betraying Julius Caesar, it was such an awful act that Shakespeare broke the rules of grammar when he said, "This was the most unkindest cut of all." Today, there are people who are so upset about something that they might refer to it as, "the most unkindest cut of all." These are the people who feel that circumcision should be banned.

Evidently, there are enough of these anti-circumcision folks to get an initiative on the San Francisco ballot for this November. If passed, this initiative would make it a crime for anyone to perform a circumcision on boys under the age of 18. The position of this group is that circumcision is "mutilation," and since genital mutilation of girls is forbidden, it should also be forbidden for boys. I guess this is based on the obvious medical fact that male and female bodies are identical. We've all been at the beach and heard the lifeguard yell, "Hey, this isn't a topless beach. Cover up those breasts, guys."

The other reason that they are against circumcision, especially on babies, is that they feel that the child getting the circumcision is too young to consent to it. I guess they think that since we didn't agree to it as babies, we should all be walking around with our umbilical cords dangling down.

The anti-circumcisioners refer to people who are uncircumcised as "intact." In fact, their movement is called, "Intact America." (Apparently, they don't care about people in the rest of the world living un-intact lives). Obviously, they believe that those Americans who are "intact" are more fortunate than those who are not. What about babies whose lives were saved by doctors performing surgery on them to remove lethal things from their little bodies? Should their parents have spurned the surgery in the hope that their kids could brag to everyone that they are still "intact?" I guess it would be silly of me to suggest that maybe these people are also against haircuts.

Russell Crowe, the well-known actor and I guess, part–time medical ethicist, has weighed in on this debate. He has said that he believes that God made all babies perfect and that circumcision is "barbaric and stupid." At least he's willing to debate the issue intelligently.

I've never been someone who has railed against the "Nanny State." In fact, I have always liked nannies. You'll never hear me saying anything against "Mary Poppins" or "The Sound of Music" or "The Naughty Nanny And The Pizza Delivery Guy." But having a law that tells people what they should do with their babies' private parts is just going too far. Leave it up to the parents. If anything should be a personal decision for a mother and father to make, it's this. In the past, we've heard people decry that the government should stay out of our bedrooms. I'm saying that the government should stay out of our underpants.

While doing research for this column, I learned that circumcision is the most frequently performed surgery in the United States. Living in Los Angeles, I thought Number One was the breast implant. I understand that just because it's so popular doesn't mean it's the right choice. That would be like saying since "America's Biggest Loser" is popular, it contributes the most to our culture.

Anyway, there are people on both sides of the argument who claim that their way is healthier. The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention feel that circumcision contributes to healthier men and that uncircumcised men are much more susceptible to all kinds of medical problems. On the other hand, Intact America can point to its experts who say the opposite. That's why this shouldn't be a law, but should be an informed choice that parents make. And those parents should be informed that the World Health Organization is for circumcision, and Russell Crowe is against it. See? It's not such an easy decision.