Circumcision Ban Compromise: Snip Only Some of the Foreskin!

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A third way?
The topic of babies' foreskins has been oddly prominent in our city's political and legal discourse as of late. With a ballot initiative that would ban circumcision going before San Francisco voters this fall, various legal authorities, religious groups, and comic-book illustrators have joined the fray over whether this ancient rite should be made illegal.

It's been a feverish and often bizarre debate, with accusations of barbarity and anti-Semitism flying back and forth. Thus we were interested to come across a thoughtful and temperate suggestion on how to settle the circumcision feud from Jay Michaelson in the Jewish Daily Forward. His idea? It's simple: Split the difference. Like, literally.

That's right: Michaelson suggests snipping off just the outermost extension of the foreskin, leaving portions over the head and shaft of the penis intact. It might sound outlandish, but he manages to back up this idea through some serious scholarship. Rabbis have historically divided the act of circumcision into two phases -- milah and periah. It is only during the latter phase, which literally means "tearing," that most of the foreskin is removed.

As Michaelson notes:

There is no evidence that biblical circumcision included periah, which renders it a rabbinic addition to the biblical rule rather than the core of the mitzvah itself. A circumcision without periah leaves intact most of the genital organ's sensitive areas. It fulfills the biblical commandment without the long-term and essentially irrevocable damage to an infant boy's body.

Who knows? If San Franciscans pay attention to Michaelson's solution, we might yet have a chance to vote on a second, um, scaled-back circumcision measure in the near future.

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Kirk, James Kirk
Kirk, James Kirk

Michaelson’s scholarship is not that serious: he considers Michelangelo’s David as evidence for bris milah without periah. C’mon, Michelangelo is the guy who carved Moses with horns.As for San Franciscans voting on a “scaled-back circumcision measure,” that’s as constitutionally feasible as a plebiscite to scale back that nasty, cannibalistic theology that some Christians regarding Eucharist.

Frederick Rhodes
Frederick Rhodes

When female child labia excisions were found to cause more cesarians along with less sexual enjoyment, the promoters of FGM tryed to change the custom to just a pin prick to the G spot, not revealing that the pin was subversively dipped into carbolic acid first to kill off the pleasure nerves in the prepuce. I think the procircs will just adjust the amount of visible damage so they can still use infant prepuce excisions as a form of eugenics. My Gee string nerves were snipped off after I came home from the infant prepuce excision surgery, leaving me with a different type of scar in its place, like the kind you get from a homemade butterfly bandaid. I remember the woman's voice and words of her curse as she did it to me, but not her face.

TLCTugger
TLCTugger

Compromise is lovely.  The only person who has a moral right to weigh in how much (if any) foreskin is removed is the OWNER of the penis.  So I'd be delghted with any compromise that put the decision in his hands. 

Tom Tobin
Tom Tobin

Why don't we try this with female circumcision, too?Oh, I forgot. We did.  Ethicist Dr. Douglas Diekema rationalized that it would be OK to nick a girl's clitoris, and it might even prevent her parents from circumcising her.  The idea quickly got scrapped.This idea still has all the ethics violations, just to a lesser degree.  Instead of losing 35% to 50% of his genital skin, he loses a lesser amount.  It doesn't work for me.  Either he's entitled to all of his healthy body, or he isn't.  Which is it?What percentage of your penis would you want someone else to be able to take away?

Local God
Local God

Point taken.  I also just read something on how FGM has already passed constitutionality testing in concern with religious exemption, i.e., not being a valid exemption under the Constitution.

Local God
Local God

Now this might be a good compromise, esp. for the religious.  On the secular side, there is no need to do even this unless an obvious urgent medical need.  For the religious, they can institute another ceremony for when a young man becomes of "age" and go the whole hog!

This idea might work?  Any comments?

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