OPINION: Child circumcision violates 14th amendment rights
A San Diego-based group wants voters to outlaw circumcisions.
Their mission is a righteous one. Circumcision of infant boys violates their basic rights
In 2005, the American Association of Pediatrics restated its circumcision policy and announced it would not recommend its routine use. But an astounding number of Americans still circumcise their infant boys and believe it is well within their rights to do so. They’re wrong.
According to the Cornell University Law School’s website, children and adults possess equal rights under the “equal rights” clause of the 14th amendment to the Constitution.
Circumcision is a permanent alteration to the anatomy, and it follows a man into adulthood and partially shapes his sexual identity. In infancy, it is a non-consensual, cosmetic procedure that arguably no one but the most religious of individuals would ever agree to have performed on themselves if it wasn’t forced on them.
While the decision to circumcise isn’t one that is always made out of religious tradition, there does appear to be a strong correlation between those who are religious and those who circumcise their infants even if it isn’t necessarily done for religious reasons.
In 2007, the overall number of American men who reported being circumcised was 75 percent. In Australia, of males 16-to-59, it was 59 percent in 2006. In the UK, of males 16-to-44, it was 16 percent in 2003. In China, among males 3-to-23, only 2.7 percent were circumcised in 2008. The website also indicated that a majority of men in middle-eastern countries have been circumcised, according to circinfo.org.
Even accounting for the age discrepancies in these samples, men in the more religious countries had the procedure performed in much greater numbers.
The primary secular argument for circumcision is AIDS prevention. A few studies, conducted in small communities mostly in the third-world, have shown that men who have been circumcised display a lowered incidence of HIV and AIDS. But as wonderful as this may sound, circumcision will only serve as a preventative measure for a sexually active person. Circumcision will not help infants who contract the disease as a result of the mother, and because infants are not sexually active, there is absolutely no reason to have it performed on a male before he can consent.
UNICEF, an organization that supports circumcision in countries like Kenya, reports that Japan and Germany, two countries that perform circumcision at lower rates than in America, report a similar number of AIDS-related deaths.
UNICEF also refers to any form of female circumcision as genital mutilation, even though the purported benefits are the same.
Every individual, however young, should be entitled to a degree of control over their body. A person’s religious rights should end with that person.