Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Cutters Trying to Silence Debate

So a ban on circumcision is set to appear on the ballot in San Francisco this November, but religious interest groups are trying to silence the debate before it even happens.

According to PR Newswire, The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) is teaming up with doctors (presumably circumcisers of children) and Jewish and Muslim families in a lawsuit against the circumcision ban, which call upon the state Department of Elections to remove it from the ballot on the grounds that "the City of San Francisco would have no power to enact the ordinance if approved by voters."

They cite Calfiornia Business and Professions Code, saying that municipalities cannot "prohibit a healing arts professional licensed within the state... from engaging in any act or performing any procedure that falls within the professionally recognized scope of practice of that license."

That circumcision is indeed an act that falls within "professionally recognized scope of practice," however, is at the crux of the argument. Female genital cutting was conducted by professionals in this country, and was perfectly legal until it was banned by federal law in 1996.

Says ADL Associate Director in San Francisco Nancy Appel: "Existing California law is clear... only the state can make rules about medical procedures and this initiative violates that law."

That is, of course, assuming that the circumcision of healthy, non-consenting minors is legit medical procedure. The ban on circumcision challenges this assumption.

The ADL and other religious interest groups want a judge to intervene before the November election to "spare the city and its residents from wasting resources debating and voting on an ordinance that cannot become law."

As if circumcising healthy, non-consenting children weren't a "waste of resources," not to mention medical fraud, professional abuse, and the violation of basic human rights...

Even if the ban fails to pass, this is a debate that needs to take place. The fact that these groups are working hard to stop the debate before it even happens demonstrates how important the debate actually is.

It's high time the taboo behind this subject was dropped in this country, and that a procedure that affects more than 1.3 million male children a year were discussed openly.

Shame on the ADL and their affiliates for wanting to silence debate.

"I may not agree with what you say, but I will fight to the death for your right to say it."


  1. Do the largely grass-roots intactivists have the necessary connections and bureaucratic know-how in order to combat such lawyering on the part of the highly organized and focused ADL?

    I worry that the ADL will not only quash the debate, but also set a nasty legal precedent in the process; I can't help but wonder whether intactivists have shown up unprepared for the red tape.

  2. I know that the ban could never pass. I'm at peace with this. What I never anticipated was actual groups working to stop the ban before it even got to the ballot. If religious groups are so confident that such a ban would never pass, why the concentrated effort to stop the debate before it even happens?

    I think the real problem is, they can't stand having circumcision questioned period. It is too much mental distress that such a measure is even being considered. Perhaps from here to November is simply too far away, and, even if they know the ban would never pass, it would still be months and weeks of mental anguish?

    This reminds me a lot of the gay marriage battle. Aren't there religious groups trying to stop the debate before it happens here as well?

    If I remember correctly, Proposition 8 was also voted upon, but when the LGBT community tried to get a judge to repeal that, religious right-wingers got all technical saying that "judges can't overturn the vote of the people." But now religious interest groups want a judge to intervene for them.

    Even if the ban made it to the November ballot, I'm not going to be surprised when it's voted down. I'm expecting for this ban to fail, perhaps even hoping that it does. The US is not ready to handle the fallout of such a ban. Too many parents see this as their "right," and the state would have to deal with actually arresting renegade mohels and doctors.

    Too much misinformation still abounds in this country regarding proper development of male genitals, and parents are told to forcefully retract their son's foreskins, which necessitates surgery, making "he will need it later on" a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    We've got a long way to sway the public in our favor, and to change the flawed curriculum regarding male anatomy.

    Still, I think that intactivists need to unite against this religious interest front; even if we know the ban will fail, what does this say about our democratic process, if religious interest groups can simply intervene and silence debate they don't like? Whatever happened to separation of church and state?

    Not like America at all...