For some reason gods seem to have an obsession with what humans do with their genitals, to the extent that they insist that baby boys and young girls need to have alterations made. In the case of the girls, female genital mutilation (FGM) is widespread in Africa and the Middle East (and also sometimes practiced by immigrants from those countries). For boys, the practice of circumcision (removal of the foreskin) has religious origins, but, at least in the US, is a widespread routine procedure, with a rate of about 75% (which is much higher than the 15% rate here in Canada.
As for me, I support a consistent principle of bodily autonomy. I assert that every person has the absolute right to determine what happens to their own body. This informs my position on abortion: I am pro-choice because a woman has the right to choose to be pregnant or not. It informs my position on assisted dying: A mentally competent person has the right to choose when and how to end their life. And it informs my opposition to alterations of genitals of boys and girls, whether for cultural, cosmetic, or religious reasons. Babies and children are not able to make properly informed choices about this, but their parents are obligated to refrain from making irreversible decisions on behalf of their children (except, of course, where such things are medically indicated).
Which brings me to the sad case of Heather Hironimus , a mother who was recently jailed because she would not acquiesce to the demands of the father of her 4-year-old son to have the boy circumcised. She was recently released from jail, after agreeing to allow the surgery, but claims that she was “bullied” into signing the form. (Meanwhile, the father apparently believes that circumcision is “just the normal thing to do.”)
I can’t imagine what the poor little boy will be thinking is happening to him. I can’t imagine the anguish of the mother knowing that her little boy is going to be put through a useless painful procedure on one of the most sensitive parts of his body just so the father can prove a point. I can’t imagine the callousness of the father going ahead with this (though it does bring to mind the biblical tale of Abraham being quite willing to sacrifice his son just because he thought Yahweh was telling him to).