San Francisco May Vote on Banning Male Circumcision


Circumcision: A Family Decision

Dr. F. Sessions Cole, professor of pediatrics and assistant vice chancellor for children's health at Washington University School of Medicine, said most doctors have a full discussion of the medical benefits, potential complications and long-term impact.

"Most families, in my experience, make their decision based on cultural, religious, or social considerations," said Cole.

Circumcision=FGM? Doctors Say No

But Schofield said cultural and religious considerations should not matter, just as they don't in female genital mutilation.

"When you take an infant, hold them down, and give insufficient or no anesthesia and you cut off the most sensitive part of their body, there's no question it's exactly the same [as female genital mutilation] when you look at it that way," said Schofield.

However, experts say female genital mutilation is in no way similar to circumcision, and it's misleading to equate the two.

"The anatomic female equivalent of the male foreskin is the clitoral hood," said Diekema. "Most forms of female genital cutting involve excision or far more than the clitoral hood, often excising the clitoris with or without portions of the labia."

"The male equivalent of those would be removal of the penis with or without the scrotum," said Diekema. "Female genital cutting and male circumcision are not comparable procedures."

Diekema added that there are scientifically demonstrated health benefits to male circumcision, but not for any kind of female cutting.

Intactivists Take it One Day at a Time

Schofield said that he and the intactivists are a grassroots advocacy group, and they have a broad range of support, among a variety of demographics.

"We're taking it one step at a time," said Schofield. "If it doesn't pass this time, then I'm sure it will be tried again."

Schofield refused to say whether he is circumcised or not.

"I don't want the focus to be on me and have people use it as an excuse not to look at the issue itself," he explained.

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