Will Male Circumcision be Banned in 2014?

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Genital integrity advocates from MGMbill.org submit proposed bills to Congress and 10 state legislatures to even up the rules on male and female circumcision.

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The foreskin performs important functions, just like our eyelids and earlobes.

As momentum continues to build against male circumcision, intactivists from around the USA have flooded Congress and 10 state legislatures with proposed legislation to ban genital cutting of boys. If enacted, the Male Genital Mutilation (MGM) Bill would amend existing female genital mutilation laws by making them gender neutral.

Asa Rubin, director of MGMbill.org's Massachusetts state office in Brookline, feels that all boys need to be protected from what is increasingly being referred to as genital mutilation. "It is simply immoral to surgically remove any healthy, natural, normally functioning tissue from a human being without their consent," said Rubin. "The fact that the law only forbids such barbarism for females is discriminatory and downright unconstitutional. Genital integrity is a human right that should apply equally to both sexes."

A young mother from central Vermont has also joined the grassroots intactivist movement. “I have been against circumcision since researching it six years ago when my first son was born,” said Amanda Fortier, who serves as MGMbill.org’s state office director in the city of Barre. “I try to educate everyone I know about the harm circumcision causes and that especially includes lawmakers, because they are in a position to stop it from happening. It should be obvious that healthy baby boys don’t need surgical correction. The foreskin performs important functions, just like our eyelids and earlobes.”

Male circumcision has commanded the attention of politicians and judges during the past year, beginning with a U.S. district court ruling that refused to block (1) a New York City regulation requiring circumcisers who perform metzitzah b'peh to obtain prior written consent from the parents. Then in September, Denmark’s Social Liberal Party raised the stakes when it passed a motion (2) to oppose all non-medical circumcision of underage boys. The Sweden Democrats party jumped in and introduced a similar measure (3) shortly thereafter.

The issue escalated two days later when a German court forbade a woman (4) from having her six-year old son circumcised because of the risk of psychological damage. Within a week, children’s ombudsmen from Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, and Iceland joined the Chair of the Danish Children's Council and the Children's spokesperson for Greenland to pass a joint resolution (5) urging their respective governments to ban circumcision of underage boys.

But the biggest advance occurred the very next day, when the influential Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe passed a resolution calling ritual male circumcision a violation of the physical integrity of children (6). The following month, Norway promised to introduce new legislation (7) that would regulate the practice. And in a surprise admission, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia stated his opinion that the 2011 San Francisco MGM Bill ballot measure would have been “perfectly valid” (8) had it been enacted.

Matthew Hess, president of MGMbill.org, said the legal system is finally beginning to recognize that forced circumcision is a crime. “Where courts and policymakers once ruled for parental choice, they are now ruling in favor of boys’ rights,” said Hess. “As victims of male circumcision continue to speak out, the old arguments supporting genital cutting are no longer persuasive. Slowly but surely, step by step, forced male circumcision is on the road to becoming illegal.”

In addition to submitting the MGM Bill proposal to every member of the 113th Congress, the group’s state offices submitted similar bills to every state lawmaker in California, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington.

(1) Fox News, Judge won't block New York City circumcision law, January 11, 2013.
(2) JTA, Danish coalition partner adopts anti-circumcision motion, September 18, 2013.
(3) JTA, Motion to ban non-medical circumcision introduced in Sweden, September 24, 2013.
(4) The Local, Court: circumcision too risky for six-year-old, September 26, 2013.
(5) National Secular Society, Nordic children’s ombudsmen take historic step to protect children’s rights, October 1, 2013.
(6) JTA, European council passes anti-ritual circumcision resolution, October 2, 2013.
(7) JTA, Norway to introduce new regulations on circumcision, November 12, 2013.
(8) The Jewish Week, On Circumcision, Scalia Surprises, November 12, 2013.

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Matthew Hess
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