San Francisco’s Potential Ban On Circumcision: Not Prioritizing The Health Of Boys

By  | 

Parents for or against circumcision have a new topic to discuss at cocktail parties: San Francisco is proposing a ban on all circumcision for boys under the age of 18. Despite religious intention, a parent who circumcises their baby son could receive a maximum fine of $1,000 and a year in jail. Even though this proposed ban does infringe on religious freedom, circumcision is a practice that is carried out without consent, anesthesia, and with negligible health benefits. But would this ban really prioritize the health of boys and men?

Lloyd Schofield who is leading the ban told Reuters that circumcision is “excruciatingly painful and permanently damaging surgery that’s forced on men when they’re at their weakest and most vulnerable.”

As much as I agree with Schofield’s observation, it would seem that the well-being of boys and men is not at the forefront of his ban. The rate of complications from circumcision is 10 times higher in men than in infants, making infancy the best time to circumcise if at all. Considering that this ban would make these little boys wait until they were legal adults before going ahead the procedure, the ban would in fact increase their health risks.

Should this ban be voted into enactment (which it’s expected not to), I suspect that many religious families would have their sons circumcised anyway. But if San Francisco passes a proposal that would limit their access to qualified doctors who would openly and safely perform the procedure, I worry about the infections and other health risks that these little boys would incur.

Although I understand Schofield’s basis for the ban, I doubt it will achieve his desired outcome of less circumcisions. Best to keep this practice legal, and therefore safe, for those parents who will forge ahead with circumcisions for religious reasons — if for nothing else, than the health of baby boys.