Anti-Circumcision Measures on Local Ballots
What happened: In the summer of 2011, after reaching out to legislators in 14 states, a grassroots movement collected thousands of signatures to get anti-circumcision measures onto ballots in both San Francisco and Santa Monica, California. If passed, the bans would have deemed circumcision, even for religious reasons, to be "male genital mutilation," punishable by a $1,000 penalty and up to a year in prison. By September, the measures had been removed from the ballots, and the California legislature voted to prevent local communities from banning the practice.
Why it's controversial: Circumcision rates have fallen in the last decade, with the CDC reporting a 6 percent drop in hospital circumcisions between 1999 and 2008. Anti-circumcision activists (who call themselves "intactivists") claim that the procedure is medically unnecessary, risky, and may lead to health and sexual problems later in life. Proponents of circumcision cite religious mandates, particularly for Jews and Muslims, as well as research that shows not only circumcision's safety, but its potential health benefits, including lowered risk of some cancers and sexually-transmitted diseases.
How it impacted your life: If you had a boy this year and were considering whether or not to circumcise him, you were more likely than ever to encounter strong arguments in your community and the media on both sides of this issue. Given that everything from religion to health is associated with circumcision, this debate is not likely to fade anytime soon.
Holly Lebowitz Rossi writes the Parents News Now blog for Parents.com.
Copyright © 2011 Meredith Corporation.