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Your thoughts on circumcision
November 19th, 2010
12:22 PM ET

Your thoughts on circumcision

CNN got more than 1,000 responses by noon to today's article about a proposal to ban circumcision in San Francisco, California.

To recap: anti-circumcision activist Lloyd Schofield has drawn up a proposal outlawing all circumcisions, even for religious reasons (circumcision of boys is traditional in Judaism and Islam). The punishment would be up to a year in jail or up to a $1000 fine.

Our reader comments, mostly passionate toward one view or another, have so far been fairly evenly split as a whole on the question of whether or not to circumcise.

Some of you men out there are glad to have been circumcised as infants, citing scientific evidence of its health benefits. Says jake1969:

Big thanks to my parents for circumcising me. Based on scores of studies, I have lower risk of contracting HPV, herpes, HIV, etc. And, the "inactivists" keep saying the studies are flawed, but it's clear they cherry-picked 1 or 2 and then claim they are right... Also, it's a riskier procedure to wait and decide on your own as a young adult.

Others agree with so-called "inactivists" that circumcision violates personal freedoms. Reader rcaferilla writes:

Circumcision is just an unnecessary tradition. Circumcising an infant, takes the choice away from the owner of the body, and not circumcising the infant, doesn't mean he won't be circumcised later – as an adult, but it will just be his choice. So it really just comes down to, do you want to remove his choice in the matter or not.

On the other hand, some of you oppose a ban on circumcision because that ban would violate personal freedoms. Says HooHa78:

This is absurd. Whether a child is circumcised should be a parent's or persons individual decision, not what my government or some dumbhead group decides. For a city that is supposedly so open minded this group sure is setting a poor example.

To this line of thinking, blueparadise responds:

You men are so sensitive about your junk, that I'd think you'd at least protect your innocent sons from any unnecessary pain down there. Who cares if he "won't remember it"! It's still an excruciatingly painful experience for a helpless being who has just entered the world.

Some of you, such as blueparadise, are also concerned about a loss of sexual pleasure that may come with the loss of foreskin. This point is still controversial, and it's hard to test it because there can be no "before and after" comparisons among infants. A 2008 study in the British Journal of Urology International found that circumcision does not reduce sexual satisfaction or performance among men circumcised as adults, although a smaller study in the same journal in 2007 found a decrease in masturbatory pleasure and sexual enjoyment.


soundoff (533 Responses)
  1. nate

    Freedom to make my own choice. how manny rights are we willing to give up to a govenment more resemboling the middle east than america. you dont like it dont do it but leave the choice open to the rest of free america. stop the theft of our rights.

    November 21, 2010 at 12:14 | Report abuse | Reply
    • ChildProtector

      Where is you mind, Nate? Circumcising a child steals HIS or HER right to his or her own BODY PART! And to his or her own CHOICE! To whom does the body part belong? To the CHILD! So to whom does the CHOICE of whether to keep it or destroy it belong? To the OWNER of it, the CHILD!

      November 21, 2010 at 13:59 | Report abuse |
    • bran

      Parents do not have the right to cut off other parts of their baby's body, I am sure you would not be saying that if parent's were allowed to cut off other parts of their baby.

      November 21, 2010 at 16:43 | Report abuse |
  2. Christine

    The defense of circumcision amounts to a deep-seated psychological defense mechanism, similar to corporal punishment: "my parents spanked me and I'm glad they did because I deserved it and it made me a better person". Few can bear to realize that their parents unwittingly hurt them – on purpose! Ritual genital mutilation, regardless of any irrational emotional arguments in favor of it, is one of the most horrible injuries one human being can inflict on another. Obviously God did not design the human anatomy in a way that would call for surgical alteration to protect health. Hygiene and health behaviors determine risk for diseases. Technically, it should be illegal already because it is the amputation of a healthy body part without medical necessity. Any physician with ethics should refuse to perform the procedure. Where are the women out there who know the difference between what sex is like with and without the whole penis??!!! Mothers, protect your babies!

    November 21, 2010 at 15:28 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Christine

      One more thing: I will never forget when I was working in a family practice clinic and hear the screams of an infant that almost curdled my blood and sent shivers down my spine. I asked what happened and was told it was a circumcision. Sometimes infants do not seem to react because they are just in such a state of shock. I did research on this. The idea that someone would do this to a helpless infant because of the religion they belong to clinches it for me- organized religion is evil!

      November 21, 2010 at 15:34 | Report abuse |
    • bran

      I totally agree with you.

      And anyone that says to do it as a preventive measure is an idiot because we might as well cut off other parts of our body to "prevent" cancer and other infections. Genital cutting does not prevent other cancers and infections more so than cutting off your other parts of your body to prevent cancers and infections.

      November 21, 2010 at 16:45 | Report abuse |
  3. bran

    Who is anyone to have the right to tell if the doctor to cut off a healthy part of another person's body, specifically a newly born baby? NO ONE.

    November 21, 2010 at 16:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. bran

    A lot of people here commenting here are against male genital cutting. Anyone that still believes in it is still stuck in the 20th century mindset and it is time to grow up.

    November 21, 2010 at 17:38 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mario

      I think the younger generation understands it, the older generation (parents that did it to their sons) just cant bare to believe they did something wrong. Then again they didn't have the internet to learn about the stupidity of what their doing they just had to go by what their doctors told them and the people around them.
      Many circumcised women in Africa end up doing it to their own daughters its the same cycle as fathers in other parts of the world, no one can bare to think that their parents did something bad to their body so they make up excuses(health, religion, culture) to do it to their own sons and daughters.

      November 21, 2010 at 17:57 | Report abuse |
  5. Dave L

    Nobody has the right to force circumcision without the consent of the person. And yes, that means waiting until he is of age. It is HIS body, not his parents or anyone else's.

    It's just a matter of time before someone sues his parents and hospital for mutilating him. Then the floodgates will open.

    November 21, 2010 at 18:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Mike

    I was circumcised and so was my son. I'm a christian so i understand why it was done since biblical times. It has to do with making a statement of being set apart as God's holy people. I've also heard that there are medical benefits. That said, i understand both sides of this story. If you don't believe in God or agree with circumcision, I'm cool with that. Those who are not christian surely have a right to not do it and hence the reason why its not a law now. However making a law to ensure it is never done is going a bit far.

    If people want to make it a law, it could actually be a good step towards banning abortion though. 🙂 Aborted babies weren't given a choice either so maybe we should just outlaw that too. The child can then grow up and decide themselves whether to live or die. My 2 cents. 🙂

    November 21, 2010 at 18:26 | Report abuse | Reply
    • bran

      Yes, biblical times, what year is it now? You make it sound that if you are Christian you have to get a part of your genitals amputated. The keyword: heard. You do not even know what "medical" benefits there are because there are none. Making a law to stop cutting of the genitals is not going too far. A law was passed to stop the cutting of the female genitalia which should have included males because cutting of the female genitalia was not a part of US "tradition" when male genital cutting came here to help curb boys from masturbating.

      November 21, 2010 at 20:41 | Report abuse |
  7. DLT

    The circumcision itself is NOT the issue here. The government has no place in our personal lives and is becoming outrageously intrusive. Shall we,like in China, soon be told how many children to have? How about official government representatives visiting our homes to make sure that we are doing a good parenting job? We need to recognize the erosion of our civil rights and make a stand to get them back.

    November 21, 2010 at 20:11 | Report abuse | Reply
    • bran

      There is a difference between unnecessary surgery on a newborn baby and the government telling us how we can or cannot alter our baby's bodies. If it became custom to cutting off other parts of our baby's bodies you do not think government should be stepping in to make it illegal? If it was not for government they would still be cutting up female's genitalia in this country. I think you are on the wrong article here.

      November 21, 2010 at 20:23 | Report abuse |
  8. mark

    As a Jewish physician, I am in favor of circumcision for religious and health reasons. I don't want the governement telling me how to practice my religion. As for the pain of the newborn, my son had his bris (religious circumcision) by a Jewish specialist, a"mohel." Although I can perform circ's, babies always cry, just like with urologists. My son slept thru the religious ceremony without even a peep. I would only use a mohel for Jewish religious circumcisions because: 1. Urologist's methodology is too primitive and potentially painful and 2. Without a mohel, there are no prayers or religious ceremonies–there is merely a surigical procedure. Until someone watches a good mohel perform a bris, my feeling is that any decisions made about circ's are irrelevant–at least from a pain and from a Jewish ritual perpective.

    November 21, 2010 at 23:58 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Omni

      Was it Anti-Hindu to stop a religious practince called sati in Indian.

      Satī (Devanagari: सती, the feminine of sat "true"; also called suttee)[4] was a religious funeral practice among some Hindu communities in which a recently widowed Hindu woman either voluntarily or by use of force and coercion would have immolated herself on her husband’s funeral pyre.[1] The practice is rare and has been outlawed in India since 1829.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sati_(practice)

      November 22, 2010 at 10:42 | Report abuse |
    • Omni

      For health reasons, is it advisable to remove breast, testicle, prostrate, thyroid etc at birth???

      November 22, 2010 at 10:44 | Report abuse |
  9. mark

    for bran,

    ". . .male genital cutting came here to help curb boys from maturbating." As a physician, I can assure you that a having or lacking a foreskin has no bearing on masturbation."

    As for female genital mutilation, that was to make women subserviant by cutting off the clitoris so they could not have an orgasm. For circumcision, the Biblical reason has to do (and still does from a religious point of view)with completing a covenant with G-d. Now you might be an atheist and that is fine. Then this is all poppy-cock (pun intended). That is your business. But just as I understand you are an atheist, please understand that most of the world is not and most have some religious beliefs.

    November 22, 2010 at 00:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Marilyn

    1. I say, just like on the abortion issue-M.Y.O.B. None of anyone's business what someone does.
    2. If this is someone's religious beliefs, like in Judaism, have a Mohel do it- It's there job-they know what their doing!!!
    3. Besides of the health of a man; the woman – As a woman, an uncircumsized penis is REALLY, REALLY,
    DISGUSTING. YUCK!

    November 22, 2010 at 00:16 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Joseph G.

      If female genital cutting is someone's religious belief, have a dcotor do it. It's their job, they do what they are doing!

      To all the women going "Waa, the uncircumcised penis looks weird, do not want!"

      I don't understand how something natural looks weird unless you are so brainwashed as to only accept the abnormal. Next you'll be saying all girls should get boob implants to look normal, all men should take steroids to look normal.

      Are you seriously saying we should lop off body parts for not looking right?

      News flash: The foreskin is designed to pleasure women as well!

      People are vociferous on the foreskin question, none more than Kristen O'Hara, the author of "Sex as Nature Intended It" (2002), in which she claims women are more likely to enjoy intercourse if their male partner is uncircumcised.

      "On the natural penis," O'Hara writes on her Web site, sexasnatureintendedit.com, "the soft, flexible foreskin cushions the coronal-ridge hook (of the penis head, or glans) and prevents it from scraping the vaginal walls, giving only pleasure, not soreness. ... The loose, pliable foreskin bunches up on the outward stroke to create a seal that holds fluids in. Lubrication stays inside the vagina."

      For years, O'Hara says, she suffered pain and discomfort during sex with her husband. She wondered if the problem was hers. The problem, she finally concluded, wasn't her own dysfunction – what psychologists used to call "frigidity" – but "the abnormal structure of the circumcised penis."

      Like 85 to 90 percent of American men born in the 1950s, '60s and '70s, O'Hara's husband, Jeffrey, was circumcised at birth. Twenty-one years ago, he went through a foreskin restoration process and ever since, O'Hara said in an e-mail from her home in Massachusetts, "sex became a beautiful thing again and was no longer painful. That's when I realized that millions of women are having abnormal sex because of circumcision, and millions of women fake orgasm because of it."

      For her book, O'Hara surveyed 139 women, drawn through classified ads in various publications. By a margin of 9 to 1, she says, they preferred the natural penis over his maligned, circumcised cousin. When the man is cut, O'Hara found, women are "almost five times less likely to achieve vaginal orgasm."

      With her Web site, O'Hara keeps her campaign alive. Photographs of "cut" and "uncut" penises are liberally used, along with testimony from the women surveyed, such as: "I went with one circumcised guy who was into long sessions. After a while, I'd start to feel as if he were sandpapering me down there."

      November 22, 2010 at 00:30 | Report abuse |
    • Claire in PA

      I really appreciate my husband's intact penis. As a side benefit, I have no interest in straying, since the vast majority of males in my age range (40-something) are circumcised.

      The circumcision rate today is well under 50%, and dropping rapidly.

      November 22, 2010 at 09:19 | Report abuse |
    • bran

      The majority of women in the world do not say "yuck" to an intact penis as 85% of the world's men are left intact. All you show is ignorance and shallowness. Don't you think it's time to grow up?

      November 24, 2010 at 15:09 | Report abuse |
  11. Joseph G.

    http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=416_1218124584

    Penn and Teller discuss circumcision.

    November 22, 2010 at 00:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Tucdan

    Circumcision is a brutal tribal rite that is every bit as evil as the african female circumcision. It should be banned until the male child has a medical need or reaches the age of maturity.

    November 22, 2010 at 02:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. 5 mo pregnant

    I am 5 months pregnant and I'm NOT getting the baby circumcised. See, what women don't know and men who were circumcised as babies don't know is that it really DOES reduce sexual pleasure, by a lot! Ok so you have to clean it more. A baby is born with this skin and how is cutting this skin any different than cutting off part of the ear and calling it for religious reasons? My partner decided to get circumcised as a teenager because he was catholic and pressured. This is how I know his encounter of pleasure before versus after-a decision he regrets to this day. He is not religious anymore. The people who did it left a scar to which he had to get another surgery for cosmetic reasons. That baby's body is noto your body. Respect it.

    November 22, 2010 at 05:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Jenrose

    I don't like circumcision and I think it should be avoided except when medically necessary, but I'm deeply uncomfortable with a city making a law banning it. There are times when it is medically necessary, and even without bans, the rate of circumcision is dropping. Already, many insurance companies consider it elective and won't pay for it.

    It is too easy to get in the habit of over-regulating things which ultimately are very private matters. And while personally, I believe that the choice to circumcise or not belongs to the individual who owns the body part in question, I'm not willing to punish parents who might, upon examining all of the data, come to a different conclusion.

    November 22, 2010 at 06:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Claire in PA

    My 2 sons are intact. I have never regretted my decision.

    Cutting off the foreskin to reduce risk of AIDS is a crazy idea. When my boys are old enough, I will explain to them about CONDOMS – which help prevent pregnancy and STDS and HIV infection. For the cost of one circumcision, you can buy your son about 1000 condoms, enough to last the college years and longer.

    November 22, 2010 at 09:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Omni

    Was it Anti-Hindu to stop a religious practince called sati in Indian? If you can stop sati, you can stop mutilating kids at birth without their consent. Chop off gential part is inhuman. Human right commission should put stop to it.

    Satī (Devanagari: सती, the feminine of sat "true"; also called suttee)[4] was a religious funeral practice among some Hindu communities in which a recently widowed Hindu woman either voluntarily or by use of force and coercion would have immolated herself on her husband’s funeral pyre.[1] The practice is rare and has been outlawed in India since 1829.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sati_(practice)

    November 22, 2010 at 10:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. joe smith

    This issue shows the complete and utter disregard for young boys rights. I believe women are protected from this practice but not men. Double standard! Forced amputation of body parts should be outlawed for all people!

    November 22, 2010 at 11:07 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Michael

      It should be banned for anyone under 18.

      March 11, 2011 at 02:48 | Report abuse |
  18. dwd

    Not "an object owned by parents"? How about a person in a covenantal relationship to God and his people? Trust me, there are many more Jewish men happy to be members of the Covenant than not. Or Muslims, for that matter.

    That's why we've survived this long as a discrete people. Guess you don't like that.

    November 23, 2010 at 10:42 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Joseph G.

      So give them a choice to join the covenatal relationship.

      If Scientologists started lopping off earlobes, people would raise a fuss.

      November 23, 2010 at 17:16 | Report abuse |
  19. ramon machtesh

    Well, the Jews will either assimilate completely (part of the plan) or leave (part 2), but the first muslim you imprison for infringing on his free expression and practice of religion... heard the news from Sweden?

    December 12, 2010 at 12:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. curtis youhas

    To many people have too much time on their hands. If what someone else is doing is not hurting you, DON'T WORRY ABOUT IT!!!!!!!!!!!!

    December 15, 2010 at 16:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. mario

    "As a rule, children who were once injured
    will later injure their own children,
    maintaining that their behavior does no harm
    because their own loving parents did the same."

    Alice Miller
    Banished Knowledge: Facing Childhood Injuries, p. 139, Doubleday, New York 1990

    December 16, 2010 at 18:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. John B

    Why are my comments not posting?

    December 19, 2010 at 22:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Candice

    This topic is in my opinion the silliest thing to be talking about in our worlds current state. this is america, what happened to freedom of choice? its none of anyones business what one does with their own child. THIS IS AMERICA where we are free to make our own choices and respect others choices even if they arent the same as mine. I may only be 25, and these are the rights i was told I have so either someone is lieing to me or america isnt free!

    freedom

    i know its not free but dont give it to me and then make me pay for it and then just start taking it away piece by piece!

    February 24, 2011 at 14:20 | Report abuse | Reply
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