Photo Credit: Sasha/Photodisc/Getty Images
Agonizing over whether to have your baby-to-be circumcised if he’s a boy? If you’re a California resident, at least you still have the choice. On Sunday, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law a bill that forbids local governments from banning the practice of male circumcision. The law came about after a group of activists in San Francisco lobbied to prevent the procedure, claiming it is akin to male genital mutilation. (Although they are dead serious about the cause, the activists amusingly refer to themselves as 'intactivists.')
These 'intactivists' gained steam this spring when they collected enough petition signatures to introduce a ballot measure to ban all circumcisions within San Francisco city limits. They even got support from Oscar-winning actor Russell Crowe, who infamously tweeted that "circumcision is barbaric and stupid" and called upon his Jewish friends to “stop cutting yr babies,” among other things. (Circumcision has religious significance in Judaism.) The fiery actor later apologized for his comments. Despite the intactivists efforts, a judge ruled in July that the anti-snipping measure be removed from the ballot because it infringes on religious freedom, and the bill Brown signed this weekend appears to bolster the judge’s ruling.
Although I have mixed feelings about circumcision, I am incredibly relived that Gov. Brown signed this bill into law. That’s because there’s one thing I know for sure -- I want the right to be indecisive! My husband and I truly agonized over the decision to circumcise our son. Although I do somewhat agree with Crowe that circumcision does seem a bit barbaric (although certainly not stupid), there is evidence that circumcision can help reduce the possibility of STDs and penile cancer -- according to a March 2009 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
It was that data that convinced us to circumcise our son. I’ll admit that our little guy did seem uncomfortable after the procedure -- which made us feel like awful new parents -- but it certainly did not have any lasting detrimental effects. And if the procedure could help reduce his risk of future disease, then perhaps that short-term suffering (for all three of us) was well worth it. Right???
Am I 100 percent convinced we made the right decision to circumcise our son? No. But I am 100 percent sure my husband and I deserve the right to make that decision ourselves.