If circumcision were a choice I had to have made, I would have run frantically from the hospital with my newborn son to protect him from the procedure. His father would have chased me down, insisting his son look like he did. All I can say is I'm terribly relieved I didn't have to live through that. Nor did I have to make the agonizing choice of protecting my baby from pain or disrespecting my husband. It would have been a huge battle of conscience. I was spared and given daughters.
The decision to circumcise an infant boy or not is, in the USA and I'm assuming, most of the world, still a parent's sole responsibility. More and more doctors and pediatricians are recommending against routine circumcision. The controversy is beginning to reach epidemic proportions and will soon be a major issue facing new parents. I feel very sorry for those parents. They will be bombarded with opinions at every turn and surely go though hell with it, unless they have settled this issue between them before the baby's birth. Hopefully, they will agree. The problem I foresee is the parents not agreeing on circumcision, creating a stressful situation where there should be only joy.
Cultural tradition and religious practices notwithstanding, there is no longer a medical or rational reason to circumcise a child other than for purely cosmetic reasons. Circumcision is a very painful procedure, performed on a completely innocent and unsuspecting baby. This procedure rattles me to the point that I have refused to attend the Bris of more than one friend's baby son. (A Bris is a Jewish ceremony whereby a Rabbi circumcises an infant boy ... with a lot of witnesses.) Please understand, I have absolutely nothing against the Jewish faith. I have nothing against any faith, even if I do not agree with their beliefs or practices. I DO, however, have something against anyone who inflicts pain on an innocent child. This would include some cultures that also routinely circumcise adolescent girls. If we agree that this is a barbaric ceremony, can we then apply some of that sensibility to infant boys? Sure, male circumcision does not alter a boy sexually but it does cause considerable pain to our babies without any apparent benefit to the child. The issue of cleanliness is no longer a factor. In modern society, frequent bathing is as common as brushing one's hair.
Routine circumcision is obviously not malicious intent to senselessly cause pain to an infant, however, there is much information available today, most of which supports the case against circumcising. Not at least questioning this practice is burying one's head in the sand no matter how the parents choose to proceed.
Consider the recent poll numbers obtained by American Baby magazine on circumcision:
57% chose to circumcise
42% chose not to
2% were undecided
20% said it was a hard decision to make.
Granted, as life decisions go, circumcision is not one of the most enormous in relation to the impact it will have on our babies. I believe it is more an issue of questioning generally accepted practices that no longer serve logical purposes. As neonatal circumcision is still performed on the majority of boys, (at least in the United States), this controversy should continue for a number of years. It will be interesting to see how our culture progresses and what the poll numbers will be like ten years from now.