Up until this point, I had researched the crap out of the anatomy and physiology of the natural penis, proper care, the details of what exactly circumcision entails, the medical indications for circumcision and every possible scientific argument for and against. It didn't take me long to know emphatically and confidently I would NEVER allow any child of mine to be put through the torturous and completely unnecessary surgery. I had even started commenting here and there on Facebook threads encouraging others to keep their children intact. I did have one hang up though...
As I mentioned on my very first post, I worked for a Jewish pediatrician and mohel in college. I am still extremely close with the family and the mother and I actually own a business together. I even helped plan their daughter's Bat Mitzvah and my parents came into town to attend the celebration just a couple weeks ago. Despite not being particularly religious, I do most closely identify as your run of the mill "Christian" and I'm a huge supporter of religious freedom. I even use a religious vaccine exemption. (future post topic I'm sure.)
I forget where I first read, or who I first heard say the statement that was my "AH-HA!" moment when it came to religious circumcision, but it was such a simple, rational and obvious statement:
"Religious freedom ends where another individual's body begins."How had I not come to that conclusion myself? That simple statement was all I needed to be 100% anti routine infant circumcision with no buts about it.
The American Civil Liberty Union took a stance AGAINST the San Francisco circumcision ban for several reasons you can read on their website including:
"The initiative threatens religious freedom. The initiative not only tramples the liberty of Jewish and Muslim families to honor a religious duty, it embodies a disturbing hostility toward minority faiths."
It was around that time I left a similar version of the letter below on the American Civil Liberty Union's Facebook page. It got plenty of (mostly) positive attention from everyone except the ACLU itself. I posted the same message to their page in August of 2012 when the American Academy of Pediatrics updated their official circumcision policy statement to come just shy of recommending routine infant circumcision and leaving it up to the parents. My post was mostly ignored again.
I will not be ignored any longer. Tonight is the eve of the day I send this letter (minus the links I put for my readers) via certified mail to the ACLU offices. As routine infant circumcision becomes an increasingly heated debate topic on Facebook "mommy pages," parenting blogs and the rate of circumcision continues to plummet in the United States, I predict this will not be my last letter to the ACLU. Enjoy.....
I'm curious why, when your own website's "About Us" section states you work to protect:
"Your First Amendment rights- freedom of speech, association and assembly; freedom of the press and FREEDOM OF RELIGION..." (emphasis mine) and
"Your right to EQUAL PROTECTION UNDER THE LAW- protection against unlawful discrimination" (emphasis mine)
you choose to side in FAVOR of allowing forced genital cutting of infant boys to continue in the United States.
Girls have been protected from female genital mutilation in the United States regardless of their parents' religious beliefs since Title 18, Part 1, Chapter 7, Section 116 went into effect on March 30, 1997. Why don't you fight to give boys equal protection under the law as is required by the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution? As mentioned above, your own website lists "equal protection under the law" as one of the rights you work to defend and preserve.
Allowing parents to "brand" their infant with a symbol of the religion THEY CHOSE violates the CHILD's (and the adult they will become) right to religious freedom.
"If the rights of society's most vulnerable members are denied, everybody's rights are imperiled."
The above quote is also directly off your webpage. Surely America's infant boys qualify as vulnerable members of society. Surely they are worth protecting just as America's infant girls are.
There is NOT ONE medical organization in the WORLD that recommends routine infant circumcision. In fact, the AAP's updated circumcision policy statement has been condemned by the worldwide medical community:
"There are no compelling health arguments in favor of circumcision, while it can have serious long-term urological, psychological and sexual consequences. And performing medically unwarranted circumcision of underage boys conflicts with good medical practice. Male infant circumcision conflicts with children’s rights and the doctors’ oath not to do harm."
By human rights attorneys in the Journal of Medical Ethics:
"The AAP's circumcision recommendations contradict it's own bioethics policy statement, which requires pediatric care to be based only on the needs of the patient. Non-therapeutic circumcision is incompatible with widely accepted ground rules for surgical intervention in minors."
And even the AAP itself has acknowledged a cultural bias in it's revised policy statement in its official publication:
"To these authors, only 1 of the arguments put forward by the American Academy of Pediatrics has some theoretical relevance in relation to infant male circumcision; namely, the possible protection against urinary tract infections in infant boys, which can easily be treated with antibiotics without tissue loss. The other claimed health benefits, including protection against HIV/AIDS, genital herpes, genital warts, and penile cancer, are questionable, weak, and likely to have little public health relevance in a Western context, and they do not represent compelling reasons for surgery before boys are old enough to decide for themselves."
The practice of routine infant circumcision cannot be swept under the rug as a medical procedure to be discussed with a doctor as the very practice of non-therapeutic circumcision of a minor is in violation of the informed consent principal, the limitations of proxy consent laws, the ethics of cosmetic surgery on a minor and Article 3 of the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
I encourage you to take another look at the stance you have taken on this obvious violation of human rights. I'm confident you'll realize your mistake and take a more logical and ethical approach.
There you have it! My first "official" activist letter. I certainly hope it gets noticed and even gets some minds thinking.