Sometimes I run into these tricky issues that I find it hard to make up my mind about, like the moral aspects of prostitution. Another one is public healthcare aiding circumcision performed for cultural and religious reasons.
Medically speaking, circumcision either of males or females is of course just a holdover from a barbaric past. No enlightened modern Jew, Muslim or generic American — groups that cultivate this cultural trait — should even consider it for their children. A cultural identity strongly contingent on the mutilation of babies can’t be worth hanging on to without modification.
Before anyone calls me a xenophobe, let me state that I don’t single out cultures and religions for disrespect: I disrespect harmful traits of all cultures, including my own. I’m an individualist. Don’t be cultural cattle, people, think for yourselves!
Male circumcision may protect men to some extent from catching HIV from women, a recent discovery that may become somewhat useful in Third World countries with a rampant HIV epidemic. Countries, incidentally, where a safe and clean circumcision is hard to come by.
So there’s no question that I’m against circumcision. My quandary is whether a secular state should aid those deluded individuals who want to put their children through the procedure. I have a feeling that it’s against the Hippocratic Oath for a physician to perform a circumcision without a purely medical motivation.
Amateur circumcisionists around the world cause a lot of medical problems for their defenseless victims. Therefore, Swedish public healthcare is offering trained medical aid with the procedure (for baby boys only, the female variety thankfully being illegal). This is somewhat analogous to clean syringes for heroin addicts: we have a group of citizens who aren’t acting rationally and who harm themselves, and so we provide a service that harms them a bit to keep them from harming themselves more.
But there are two important differences between heroin addicts and circumcision enthusiasts. The former a) suffer from a debilitating medical condition that takes away much of their free will and rationality, b) harm themselves. Not so with the latter. They are on average about as rational as any person can hope to be. They’re just unable to think outside their traditional box. And they harm small children.
I think my position is this. If we are going to allow male circumcision for cultural and religious reasons, then public healthcare should perform the procedure. I mean, circumcision enthusiasts pay taxes too, and we want to protect the kids from infection. But, we don’t allow female circumcision, thank goodness. So I really think we should take the same step for males under the age of 18. Let’s get rid of this cruel Bronze Age superstition. Go on worshipping whatever fictional character in the sky you like, just don’t let that interfere with the genitals of defenseless children entrusted to your care.