Thursday, February 10, 2011

Parenting "Decision" #32: Circumcision, the Ethics of it.

Over the past year I have had various conversations with friends and relatives on something considered a parenting decision.

While it is a decision that some parents make, that is about the only way it could be considered parenting.

Routine Male Circumcision is not a parenting issue it is an ethical one.

Is it more compelling to know the good things that a foreskin does? Is it more compelling to discuss honor, integrity, respect?

Are facts or feelings more of a motivator?

I have been told that it is a parent's right to make this decision for their child. That because it is a parenting choice, we can't get involved with others' decisions on the matter. Currently there is a law in place protecting baby girls from even a nick to the genitals, let alone cultural or religious circumcision. So then is it a matter off sexism? Are baby boys not worth protection as well?

What line is drawn between what a parent can do and can't do to their child. Socially it is unacceptable to starve, beat, neglect, abuse, abandon, molest, or psychologically harm a child, not to mention the illegality of many of those examples. It is for the protection of the mind and body of the child. It is repulsive to each of us that such acts can be done to those innocent and in our care.

We remove abnormalities such as extra toes, cancerous moles, and correct things such as bladders that are grown outside of the body, cleft pallets, and club feet. We try to return the child to what is considered a functioning and normal example of a human body. In what sense then, is it returning the child to normalcy to cut off a part of the body which was naturally and purposefully grown there?

I have talked to parents who say that they will do it, or did it to prevent a problem from 2 - 85 years down the road. Some will do it because they think that they are saving themselves trouble in care and cleaning. Others make the choice from pressure from spouses and doctors.

One example of the 85 year old went along the lines of once he was in a nursing home the man got numerous infections. Two answers to that are, the nurse wasn't doing a very good job of caring for him and two, by that point he had a life enjoying the benefits of having a foreskin. As an adult who wanted to avoid STDs, UTIs, or any other reason given to circumcise a baby, but that man had a lifetime to choose how his body functioned and looked.

After going over the whys and wherefores it does come down to that though, choice.

Should the parents really have the right to choose what parts of his body a baby boy gets to keep? When he becomes sexually active, doesn't he have the right to decide if it is worthwhile to keep or remove?

Part of the discussion is that parent's make choices all the time for babies, and children. Vaccinate, don't vaccinate; cheerios, or steel cut oats; homeschooling or public. But none of those choices takes away what the child came into the world with.

Of everything we have as humans nothing is more personal or OURS than our bodies and minds. Whether you believe in God or in Evolution, man (humans) comes into the world one way, and is the only creature on earth who seems to think that a normal and natural functioning part of the body is deficient and must be removed. But it isn't that man who decides. Someone takes him in his infancy and decides for him that he isn't perfect. His mother and father who love him find a part of him, that his Mother spent time growing and labored bringing into this world, as not good enough.

The cry from mothers should be, "I worked too hard for you to say that it isn't good enough. I made someone glorious and beautiful and his body is my gift to him. Let him choose what to do with it."

Do parents have the right to decide the function and appearance of the most personal part of the man their son will someday be? He is not able to give his consent, it is never asked of him how he wishes it to be.

There is a line drawn between parenting and ethics. If the governing bodies of pediatric medicine all over the world cannot, and do not recommend it routinely on its own merit, why are we performing this surgery on our babies.

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