BUFFALO LAW REVIEW, Volume 45, pages 573-586 (1997)

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Male circumcision is as invasive as female circumcision. Although complications differ between the two, there is a naive and uninformed belief that little boys do not suffer, but little girls do--a function of the differing roles the sexes are "assumed" to play in society. The extent of removal should not make a difference. Neither child asks for the abrupt ripping and tearing of his or her genitals. Interestingly similar justifications have been advanced for each procedure--a further demonstration of the correlation between the two abuses.

The brutal nature of female circumcision makes it too difficult, if not impossible, for Westerners to imagine any justification for the act. Practicing communities claim to adhere to both cultural values and religious doctrine in their continuation of the practice. Deeply embedded cultural arguments range from the continuing survival of the tribal group to the need for initiation into adulthood.132 Generally, identical or similar justifications are given throughout all the regions and communities in which female circumcision is performed.133 Similarly, male circumcision is an invasive and umutilating act that has been justified for thousands of years. Like female circumcision, the procedure has both significant cultural and religious justifications. Explanations for the practice range from tribal symbol to hygiene. The justifications for male and female circumcision vary only with regard to religious orientation and asserted medical necessity for the male procedure.

A. Cultural Justification for Female and Male Circumcision134

Female circumcision advocates continue to offer several justifications for the practice. The logical underpinnings of these justifications are erroneous. Some of these reasons include the following: cleanliness;135 genital aesthetics;136 still birth prevention ;137 the promotion of socio-political cohesion;138 the deterrence of female promiscuity139 by virginity preservation;140 male sexual enhancement;141 the increasing of marital opportunities;142 health maintenance;143 and fertility enhancement.144 Circumcision opponents contend these reasons have no validity; female circumcision is done to control women, keeping them subordinate to men.145

Like its female counterpart, similar cultural justifications are offered in support of male circumcision. Male circumcision supporters suggest that circumcision improves hygiene,146 increases cosmetic value,147 diminishes sexual desire,148 enhances sexual pleasure,149 increases fertility,150 indicates a tribal identity by signifying adulthood,151 and physiological purity,152 or demonstrates a sacrifice,153 pain endurance,154 or enslavement.155 These justifications, like those provided for female circumcision, are inaccurate and insufficient reasons for the continued removal of healthy body parts. Just as institutional racism and sexism were falsely justified through pseudo-scientific "authority" these dubious reasons also serve to perpetuate circumcision.

B. Male Circumcision: The Medical Justifications and Medical Counterarguments

The only major difference between the justifications offered for male and female circumcision is the strong reliance on "medical evidence" supporting the justification for male circumcision. Controversy surrounds this justification. Of the circumcisions performed in the United States, over ninety percent are performed as a medical procedure.156 However, "[t]here are few situations in which circumcision is justified for medical reasons."157 In the 1970s, both the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a policy against routine circumcision of newborns, stating that there is a lack of medical indications for the procedure.158 Male circumcision, however, continues to be linked to the prevention of venereal disease, cervical cancer, urinary tract infections and penile cancer,159 but "in the absence of well designed prospective studies, conclusions regarding the relationship of [such diseases or infections to circumcision are tentative."160

The latest findings come from a study published in the April 2, 1997, Journal of the American Medical Association, in which researchers indicate that there is no evidence that circumci sion protects against contracting sexually transmitted diseases.161 Edward Laumann, one of the authors of the study, states that "[the researchers] were being very cautious in reporting those numbers because this is always a hot-button issue. . . . The claim has always been that being circumcised acted as a prophylactic against getting sexually transmitted diseases."162 Now, however, "[t]here doesn't seem to be a powerful medical or health reason to do it."163

Laumann reports two benefits of the study's results. One, that circumcision may reduce sexual disfunction.164 Another, that circumcised men engage in a "more elaborate set of sexual practices."165 Although the study does not firmly take one side or the other in the debate over whether to circumcise, it does make it clear that "circumcision offers men little health benefit."166

Edgar J. Schoen, a physician with the Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Oakland, California, in an article on post-newborn circumcision, contends that newborn circumcision benefits a child in the same way a vaccine benefits a child.; it is a long-term procedure providing constant protection from disease.167 Schoen cites the beneficial effects of newborn circumcision, explaining how the benefits have led to an increase in post-newborn circumcision.168 He argues, however, against male circumcision later in childhood, which undermines his advocacy of newborn circumcision.

Although I believe newborn circumcision can be strongly recommended on medical grounds, circumcision later in childhood is more problematic. In later childhood, the greater danger from [urinary tract infections] is past. A fully retractable foreskin with good genital hygiene almost eliminates the possibility of phimosis and decreases the chance of developing local infection and penile cancer.169

Schoen suggests that good hygiene is the only necessary measure to reduce the risks involved if a newborn is not circumcised. If the medical profession is concerned about the benefits of circumcision and the prevention of certain infections in adulthood, it is contradictory that Schoen would state that the danger of urinary tract infection diminishes later in childhood and there is, therefore, no need for post-newborn circumcision. "Unequivocal proof that lack of circumcision is a risk factor for increased urinary tract infection is currently unavailable. . . . The behavior change suggested (circumcision) is not harmless and therefore cannot be recommended with unequivocal proof of benefit."170

Although there may be a possible causal link between circumcision and its "advantages and disadvantages," there is evidence to suggest that medical history, socioeconomic factors, and genetics are major factors contributing to the general medical trends regarding circumcision.171. The correlation between circumcision and lack of subsequent penile cancer is one of the biggest arguments put forth in favor of circumcision.172 The incidence of penile cancer, however, is a prime example of how other factors contribute to or possibly explain the trends in the disease. In the case of cancer of the penis:

[t]he overall annual incidence ... in U.S. men has been estimated to be 0.7 to 0.9 per 100,000 men and the mortality rate is as high as [twenty-five percent]. This condition occurs almost exclusively in uncircumcised men. In five major reported series since 1932, not one man had been circumcised neonatally. The predicted lifetime risk of cancer of the penis developing in an uncircumcised man has been estimated at 1 in 600 men in the United States; in Denmark, the estimate is 1 in 909. In developed countries where neonatal circumcision is not routinely performed, the incidence of penile cancer is reported to range from 0.3 to 1.1 per 100,000 men per year. This low incidence is about half that found is uncircumcised U.S. men, but greater than that in circumcised U.S. men.173
These statistics suggest that factors other than circumcision cause a greater incidence of penile cancer.

An early study of worldwide distribution of penile cancer showed low rates in Israel, "an exclusively circumcised male population," and the U.S., "a largely circumcised male population."174 In Canada and Europe, countries where the practice is sporatic or rare, the rates were just as low.175 This evidence illustrates that similar standards of living rather than whether a male is circumcised may lead to consistent rates of penile cancer.176 Lower standards of living combined with poor hygiene can lead to disease and infection. Developing countries which have lower standards of living and have the lowest standards of hygiene have the highest rates of penile cancer,177 and that is is most common among peoples in whom ignorance and poverty combine to maintain hygiene at is lowest standard."178 Surgery is unnecessary when optimal hygiene is an effective measure in preventing penile cancer.179 The effectiveness of hygiene is yet another factor which proves that circumcision proponents have not collected data from a broad range of the world's population. Male circumcision opponents suggest that pro-circumcision data on penile cancer and other diseases is not conclusory and the alleged need for the procedure is merely a fallacy;180 circumcised boys are not less likely to develop health problems as a result of the removal of their foreskin.181

If the medical arguments for circumcision were sound, surely we would expect to see other medically advanced and technologically sophisticated societies in Europe and Japan implementing this practice, or, if not, suffering the dire consequences in statistically significant numbers which this highly flawed research would predict. Neither is true.182
Although we may believe that foreskin has no vital significance, it does have several important functions.183 The foreskin serves as a (sic) integral part of the penis. The intact penis does not require special care.184 The penis is self-cleaning as the vagina and "smegma is not dirt, but rather `beneficial and necessary'"185 Conversely, circumcision has been considered harmful to hygiene as the wound demands constant care to avoid infections.186

Nevertheless, the controversy over the alleged health benefits of circumcision continues. The American Academy of Pediatrics recently noted that "[n]ewborn circumcision has potential medical benefits and advantages as well as disadvantages and risks."187 The word "potential" should be noted; its use reiterates, once again, that there is no conclusive evidence or data which recommends circumcision out of medical necessity. As the debates intensify and uncertainty persists, the American Academy of Pediatrics will reconsider its neutral position in the latter part of 1997 and issue a statement to that effect.188

C. "Fitting In": Mutilating Children in the Name of Conformity

There are several motivations for the perpetuation of both genital abuses. One of the greatest motivations for women and men to continue this practice is the fear of losing the moral, psychological, or material benefits of belonging.189

American parents of baby boys are often concerned that their child's penis looks like everyone else's,190 thereby making sure it is "aesthetically pleasing."191 Men perpetuate the mutilation of their sons. Circumcised father are obsessed with conformity, wanting their child's penis also to be circumcised. They worry about the social problems an uncircumcised child may confront as he matures.192

Women from cultures where female circumcision is practiced often defend the damage incurred.193 Actions taken against circumcision raise the specter of the invasion and humiliation that accompanied colonialism.194 Moreover, criticism from the outside is considered less tolerable than criticism coming from within a culture.195 "When the demands of conformity conflict with rationality or individual need, denial intervenes as a mechanism for survival. In this way, man y women [and men] justify their own oppression."196

D. Religious Justifications for Female and Male Circumcision: To Mutilate in the Name of God.197

1. Legitimizing Female Circumcision Through Religion: Islam. Adherence to religious doctrine, like cultural continuity, is another theoretically unsound justification for female circumcision. Since several predominately Muslim, African countries practice female circumcision, female circumcision is generally associated with Islam. In these countries, the performance of female circumcision is justified through Islam, although the act itself clearly preceded Islam in Africa.198

Islamic Law has two main sources, the Qur'an and the Hadith. The Qu'ran is the most authoritative source of Islamic doctrine, while Hadith is religious commentary.199 The Qur'an is a compilation of the words of God as revealed to the Prophet Muhammed.200 The Hadith is a collection of the prophet Muhammed's lifetime sayings and actions, also referred to as sunna,201 which "confirmed, extended, elaborated, explained, and complemented the revelation."202 Religious justification may stem from misuse of the word sunna in describing one of the types of circumcision.203 For Muslims, the failure to perform an act identified as sunna is unacceptable.204

There are different sayings of the Prophet Muhammad that address female circumcision. There is not, however, a single passage in the Qur'an mandating that a woman be circumcised.206 One saying of the Prophet Muhammad is: "Cut slightly without exaggeration (ikhtafidna wa-la tanhikna), because it is more pleasant (ahza) for your husbands."207 This saying, however, like other sayings, is not considered sunna.

Generally Orthodox religious scholars do not advocate the practice of female circumcision.208 The Qur'an itself bans the alteration of the human body in verse 4:119: "[Satan said, "I shall] mislead them and tempt them and order them to slit the ears of animals and God's creation."209 Another Qur'anic verse forbids followers to harm themselves: "Spend in the way of God, and do not seek destruction at your own hands."210 These are just two of the scripture-based religious arguments which demonstrate that Islamic law does not mandate female circumcision.211 Moreover, the "transmission" of the practice helps to explain why the practice is not religiously based.213 "When Islam entered Asia countries from Arabia or Iran, it did not carry `female circumcision' with it, but when it was imported to Asia through Nile Valley cultures, [female circumcision] was a part of it."214

2. Judaism, Christianity and Female Circumcision. Besides the Islamic justification, it is important to look at other religious sects that perform and justify female circumcision. The Bible, like the Qur'an, does not mention female circumcision.215 There are, however, Christian groups in Africa which pe rpetuate female circumcision. To accommodate this practice, these groups founded churches independent of Western sects of Christianity.216 In an attempt to combat Christian missionary condemnation of African culture, these groups promote traditional customs and support female circumcision as a link to the past.217 Like Islam and Christianity, there is no religious doctrine that mandates female circumcision in Judaism.218 Ethiopian Jews, are the only known Jews to practice female circumcision.219 Female circumcision, however, can be interpreted as forbidden by Judaism.220

3. Judaism and Male Circumcision: The Bible and its Contradictions. Unlike its female counterpart, adherence to male circumcision is based on religious doctrines. In Judaism, male circumcision finds its origins in both oral and written tradition.221 Several passages from the Old Testament prescribe the rite which began with Abraham.222 Abraham was commanded by God to circumcise himself and his offspring.223 For Jews, circumcision is the divine covenant formed between God and Israel and God's chosen people.224 A circumcised penis is a symbol of identity among Jews; it distinguishes the Jew from the non-Jew. It not only signifies the covenant, but also signifies a people that have suffered persecution throughout the ages.225 "The precept of circumcision is a most major one. Failure to circumcise one's son subjects the individual to the penalty of karet, or extirpation. The Torah relates that even Moses nearly forfeited his life because he was late in fulfilling the command of having his son circumcised."226

The ritual circumcision always takes place on the eighth day following birth.227 If the eighth day falls on the Sabbath or Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, the ritual still takes place.228 In order to be circumcised, the child must be healthy; the mohel is generally the one who determines whether the child can undergo the ritual.

Aside from the religious rationale that circumcision is a God-given command, several other reasons for the perpetuation of the practice have been advanced.229 The procedure, in the first century, was said by Philo to be performed for reasons of cleanliness and health benefits.230 Maimonides, in the twelfth century, said that circumcision "counteract[ed excessive lust."231 The divine injunction, however, is the true origin of male circumcision in Judaism.232

Although religious scholars interpret the Old Testament to mandate male circumcision, and mention of male circumcision can be found throughout the text, significant passages exist which do not support the procedure.233 The Bible is opposed to body mutilation or deformation.234 Leviticus 19:28 reads: "You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the Lord."235 Genesis 1:27 also states, "[s]o God created Mankind in his own image, in the image of God, he created him."236 If human beings were created in the image of God, it would appear that no corrections to the human body are necessary unless the act of circumcision signifies a flaw in God's design.237

4. Islam and Male Circumcision. Islamic circumcision differs slightly from Jewish circumcision in that the procedure often occurs only after a Muslim boy can recited the entire Qur'an;238 However, the age of the boy varies depending upon family and region; the earliest it is ever performed is on the seventh day following birth.239 There is no direct mention of circumcision in the Qu'ran; however, according to the sayings of Muhammad, God tested Abraham, commanding him to circumcise himself.240

Most Muslims consider circumcision essential and a sunna, an action of the prophet, which indicates that all past prophets performed it.241 There are many narrative reports which demonstrate that circumcision was a sunna at the time of Muhammad.242 One sunna in particular states that when a convert came before Muhammad, "Muhammad told him: `Shave off your unbelievers hair and be circumcised.'"243 Another report records that Muhammad stated that an uncircumcised man could not go on the pilgrimage to Mecca.244 Muhammad is also quoted as saying circumcision is a norm taught be God to His creation.245 Islamic proponents of male circumcision, however, acknowledge that these narrative reports are not credible and may not be authentic. Moreover, Islam like Judaism, offers several religious arguments against circumcision such as banning the alteration of the human body.246

5. Christianity and Male Circumcision. Christian doctrine is grounded in the scripture of both the Old Testament and the New Testament, which states is several sections that circumcision is unnecessary.248 The Old Testament may justify the procedure for Christians based upon the fact that Jesus was circumcised. Since Jesus is a "most perfect being" in Christian theology, Christians themselves must be circumcised.249 Most Christian parents in today's society are apt to rely on medical justifications rather than religious ones.250

Although several groups rely on a religious justification for female circumcision, none have a strict textual doctrine mandating the brutal act. As for male circumcision, at least in the Jewish religion, there is doctrine, which on its face is supportive, although contradicts other areas of Jewish law.251 Such religious justification demonstrates that communities are most hesitant "to break with age old practices that symbolize the shared heritage of a particular ethnic group."252 Be it tradition or religion, neither reason can justify the infliction of pain on innocent men, women and children. The call for eradication of male circumcision must be made, as it has with female circumcision.

      132. see generally Smith supra note 9, at 2451; Koso-Thomas, supra note 31, at 5-14; Culture, supra note 18, at 1949; Woman, supra note 23, at 71.
       133. Culture, supra note 18, at 1949.
       134. The need to "fit in" is a cultural justification stemming from reasons of socio-political cohesion and tribal identity, which for purposes of this comment, will be discussed separately. See supra notes 189-96 and ccompanying text.
       135. Many of those who practice female circumcision think that the glandular secretions of the genitals are foul smelling and unclean and that the hand used to cleanse a woman's genitals will contaminate anything else she may touch. Koso-Thomas, sup ra note 31, at 7.
       136. Proponents believe that the clitoris could develop into male genitalia and should therefore be removed. The organ is also considered too ugly to see or touch. Id.
       137. Some communities think that if the first born's head touches the clitoris, the baby will die. Id.
       138. This ritual in certain communities confers social acceptability and social equality among women. Id.
       139. Proponents think the clitoris makes women over-sexed and sexually demanding. Koso-Thomas, supra note 31, at 7.
       140. Circumcision is said to protect a woman's chastity and make her a suitable bride. Proof of virginity is often necessary for marriage. Id.
       141. Proponents believe the clitoris is homologous to the penis, if left intact, it causes men to be over-excited and to prematurely ejaculate. Those holding this belief think men should decide when the sexual act ends. In addition, when a woman is stitched closed, a man experiences increased pleasure due to the narrow opening of her vagina. Id.
       142. It is argued that a woman who reaches puberty will be married within one year if circumcised. In certain communities, men will not marry women who are not circumcised. Koso-Thomas, supra note 31, at 7.
       143. The argument is that circumcised women do not complain of physical ailments and that circumcision has healing powers. Id.
       144. A woman not circumcised is thought to have glandular secretions that kill sperm. Id
      . 145. Toubia, supra note 2, at 5; John Donnelly, Female Circumcision Draws New Scrutiny in Mideast, Dallas Morning News, June 18, 1995, at 20A.
       146. Many proponents believe that circumcision makes a person cleaner, assuming that smegma, the buildup of dead tissue under the foreskin, is bad. Romberg, supra note 1, at 4. Hygiene, one of the traditional justifications, is most likely grounded in the fear of masturbation. It was thought that a boy cleasing under the foreskin would learn to masturbate, thus leading to insanity or other mental illness. Brigman, supra note 52, at 339.
       147. Many consider a circumcised penis more aesthetically pleasing. Circumcision, Am. Fam. Physician 280, (1984).
       148. Circumcision is thought to reduce masturbation. Wallerstein, supra note 1, at 2. Others think the foreskin causes an involuntary erection and its removal will counteract excessive lust. Romberg, supra note 1, at 6.
       149. The idea is that circumcision prevents or reduces premature ejaculation. Wallerstein, supra note 1, at 2.
       150. The idea is that circumcision increases or is necessary for fertility. The procedure is often part of fertility ceremonies. Romberg, supra note 1, at 8.
       151. Social value surrounds the procedure. For some it is a way of determining to which tribe someone belongs. ROMBERG, supra 1, at 5-6.
       152. Some consider circumcision a holy act, that of purification. Romberg; supra note 1 at 9.
       153. Circumcision is often connected with religious rituals and removing the foreskin, for some, it is considered a sacrifice to the gods. Id. at 12.
       154. Primitive societies believed male circumcision was an initiation rite and that pain and torture was a test of endurance. Id. at 12-13.
       155. The act may have been a way of identifying slaves. Id. at 8.
       156. Ronald E. Kotzsch, Hold that Scapel!, Natural Health, May 1995, at 60.
       157. Id. (quoting James Snyder, M. D., a urologist and member of the American College of Surgeons, who practices in Low Moor, Virginia) "According to Snyder, circumcision is medically justified for a mature male whose foreskin has not retracted. It might also be appropriate for diabetics--about two percent of the population--who are sometimes prone to yeast infections of the skin of the prepuce." Id. For discussion on therapeutic circumcisions, see Wallerstein, supra note 1, at 62-66.
       158. Mark S. Brown & Cheryl A. Brown, Circumcision Decision: Prominence of Social Concerns, 80 Pediatrics 215 (1987); Wallerstein, supra note 1, at 218.
       159. Wallerstein, supra note 1, at 15-25; see also Christopher Maden et al., History of Circumcision, Medical Conditions, and Sexual Activity and Risk of Penile Cancer, 85 J. Nat' l Cancer Inst 19-24; Edgar J. Schoen et al., Report of the Task Force on Circumcision, 84 Pediatrics 388-91 (1989). In 1990, the American Academy of Family Physicians issued the following position statement on circumcision:
Current medical literature regarding neonatal circumcision is controversial and conflicting. Proponents cite potential benefits in regard to penile cancer, cervical cancer in the male's partner, sexually transmitted diseases including HIV infection, an d neonatal urinary tract infections....Conversely, other physicians are not convinced of these relation ships and argue that optimal hygiene affords as much protection as circumcision....
Holman et al, supra note 1 at 511.
       160. Robert S. Thompson, M.D., An Opposing View, 31 J. Fam. Practice 189. (1990).
       161. Edward O. Laumann, Ph.D et al., Circumcision in the United States, 277 JAMA 1052 (1997). The findings came from a national probability of 1,410 men aged 18 to 59 years, and interviewed in person in 1992 as part of a National Health and Social Life survey by University of Chicago researchers. Id.
       162. Sexually Transmitted Diseases. Circumcision Doesn't Protect Against STD's DISEASE WEEKLY PLUS, Apr 14, 1997.
       163. Circumcision Won't Improve Health But May Enliven Sex, Study Shows, Tampa Trib. Apr 4, 1997, at 11 (quoting Edward O. Laumann).
       164. Id.; see also Laumann et al., supra note 161, at 1052.
       165. Laumann et al., supra note 161 at 1052. Laumann states that the study "show[ed] really stark differences between circumcised men and uncircumcised men with regard to experience of a variety of sexual practices." Id. However "[c]ircumcised men may 'have more elaborate sexual scripts' although he was not sure why." Shankar Vedantam, View in Conflict Over Circumcision: Study Finds No Major Health Benefit, Cin. Enquirer, Apr 2, 1997, at A4. Tim Hammond, founder of NOHARMM, suggests that the elaborate sexual practices are an obvious result of circumcision. Hammond states that that circumcision "reduces penile sensitivity, thus promoting `more varied sex.'" Tim Hammond, Not Very Civilized, Chi. Trib. Apr 12, 1997, at 22T. For more information on NOHARMM, infra notes 389-91 and accompanying text.
       166. Della De LaFuente, Circumcision Provides Few Health Benefits, Study Says, Chi. Sun Times, Apr 2, 1997, at 23.
       167. Edgar J. Schoen, M.D., Circumcision Updated--Indicated? 92 Pediatrics 860-61 (1993).
       168. Id.
       169. Id. Uncircumcised boys under the age of one have a very small increased risk of urinary tract infections (UTIs). Urinary tract infections are rare only about one percent of infants that are un- circumcised get a UTI. UTIs are generally treated with antibiotics. It is also important to note that a circumcised infant can still get a UTI. Just because the risk may be lower does not mean that a circum- cised child is not susceptible to a UTI. Just because a risk may be lower does not mean that a circumcised child is not susceptible to a UTI. Linda Berkhoudt O' Conner, The Circumcision Decision, Buff. News, June 18, 1996 at C1.
       170. Thompson, supra note 160, at 195 (emphasis in original).
       171. D. M. Fergusson et al., Neonatal Circumcision and Penile Problems: An 8 Year Longitudinal Study, 81 Pediatrics 537-41 (1988); see also Romberg, supra note 1, at 240, 255-74.
       172. Id. at 239.
       173. Schoen, supra note 167, at 388-91.
       174. Romberg, supra note 1, at 241.
       175. Id.
       176. Id.
       177. Id.; Schoen, supra note 167, at 388-91.
       178. Romberg; supra note 1, 237.
       179. "A girl's genitals are more difficult to keep clean than a boy,'s intact penis. Boys, like girls, can easily figure out for themselves the details of how to clean their own genitals" Common Myths about Circumcision...Some Facts About Circumcision, 17 Midwifery Today 23 (1991).
       180. Wallerstein, supra note 1, at 15-25.
       181. Julie Brown, Ruling Out Circumcision for Her Boy, Plain Dealer, Aug 8, 1995, at 4E. The medical focus is always on American or Jewish men. If there is a medical necessity for circumcision, countries as advanced as the United States would routinely circumcise their children because if it did not, an epidemic proportion of men would die of penile cancer.
       182. Miriam Pollack, Circumcision: A Jewish Feminist Perspective, in Jewish Women Speak Out: Expanding the Boundaries of Psychology 175 (Kayla Weiner & Arinna Moon eds., 1995.
First it expands to cover the penis which increases by fifty percent in diameter and length upon erection. Without this extra skin, the skin of the circumcised penis is pulled taut when erect and sometimes is bowed, causing discomfort during erection or intercourse. Secondly, the foreskin protects the glans (the head of the penis), In infancy it shields the glans from contamination of urine and feces, and throughout life, it maintains the glans as the internal organ it was meant to be. Without the foreskin the sensitive mucous membrane of the glans becomes dried up and is keratinized, a process of unnatural thickening that occurs and lessens sensitivity. Thirdly, because the foreskin represents one third or more of the most erogenous tissue of the penis, having a greater concentration of fully developed, complex nerve endings than the glans, the pleasurable function of this delicate tissue is lost. Finally, the presence of the foreskin facilitates pleasurable intercourse by increasing sensitivity and enhancing the pleasure dynamic of the couple. Altering form inevitably alters function.
Pollack, supra note 182, at 175-176.; see also Fleiss and Hodges, supra note 106, at 64.
       184. Fleiss & Hodges, supra note 106, at 64-5.
       185. Id. at 65:
Just as smegma is produced under the male foreskin, it is also produced under the clitoral foreskin and may come in contact with the female's urethra, vagina, cervix, and rectum. For that matter, since the penis may come in contact with female smegma during coitus, female smegma could be blamed for causing prostatic and penile cancer.
Wallerstein, supra note 1, at 90.
       186. Fleiss & Hodges, supra note 106, at 65.
       187. Schoen, supra 168, at 391.
       188. Mary Brophy Marcus, Questioning and(sic) Old Assumption, U.S. News & World Report, Apr. 14, 1997, at 15; see also New Study Adds Doubts Concerning Health Benefits of Routine Circumcision; Survey Finds Incidence of Sexually Transmitted Diseases is Higher, Balt Sun, Apr. 2, 1997, at 9A.
       189. Toubia, supra note 2, at 37; Brown & Brown, supra note 159, at 215-19; see also Sonya Live, supra note 11.
       190. Romberg, supra note 1, at 12; see also Sharon Bass, Circumcision Persists Despite Doctor's Disapproval, Maine Times, Jan 2, 1997, at 10.
       191. Circumcision, supra note 147, at 280.
       192. Some grown men are reacting in a manner which contradicts parent's concern with conformity. Some men are forming support groups to discuss the traumatic experience, while others are reconstructing penile foreskin. see generally John Taylor, The Long Hard Days of Dr. Dick: Penis Enlargement Specialist Dr. Melvyn Rosenstein and Other Physicians who perform Male Cosmetic Surgery, Esquire, Sept. 1995, at 120; Stephen Rodrick, Unkindest Cut, Anti-Circumcision/Penile Restoration Activism, New Republic, May 29, 1995, at 10.
       193. Toubia, supra note 2, at 37.
       194. This conjures up memories of colonialism. Id. Cultures often fear the threat of moral imperialism which occurred during colonial times.
       195. Id.; see infra note 374 and accompanying text.
       196. Toubia, supra note 2, at 37.
       197. For purposes of this comment, only the three monotheistic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) will be analyzed.
       198. See generally Toubia, supra note 2.
       199. Frederick M. Denny, An Introduction to Islam 175 (1985)
       200. Id.
       201. Id.
       202. Id.
       203. See Woman, supra note 23, at 71.; see discussion supra notes 24,25.
       204. See Woman, supra note 23, at 71.
       205. Sami A. Aldeeb Abu-Sahlieh, To Mutilate in the Name of Jehovah or Allah: Legitimization of Male and Female Circumcision 10-12 (1994) [hereinafter Mutilate] (Occasional Paper No. 21, on file with the Buffalo Law Review.
       206. Woman, supra note 23, at 72; see also Catherine L. Annas, Irreversible Error: The Power and Prejudice of Female Genital Mutilation, 12 J Contemp. Health L. & Pol'y 325, 328 (1996)
       207. Mutilate, supra note 205.
       208. Toubia, supra note 2, at 31.
       209. The Women 4:119 (Al-Qur'an, Ahmed Ali trans., 1994).
       210. The Cow 2:195 (Al-Qur'an, Ahmed Ali trans., 1994).
       211. These two verses could also serve as valid scriptural arguments against male circumcision.
       212. Countries such as Saudi Arabia, Iraq, the Gulf States, Kuwait, Algeria, and Pakistan do not practice female circumcision. Toubia, supra note 2, at 32.
       213. Id.
       214. Id.
       215. Id.
       216. Id. at 32. Christian groups which practice female circumcision are the Coptic Christians of Egypt and the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Id.
       217. Id.
       218. Id.
       219. Id. Nearly all of the population now resides in Israel. Id.
       220. Devarim/Deuteronomy 14:1; Vayyiqra/Leviticus 19:28
       221. Romberg, supra note 1, at 33.
       222. Bereshit/Genesis 17:12; Vayyiqra/Leviticus 12:2-3
       223. Lutsche, supra note 78, at 37; see also Bereshit/Genesis 17:12
       224. Jim Bigelow & Tim Hammond, Uncircumcising: Undoing the Effects of an Ancient Practice in a Modern World. Mothering, June 22, 1994, at 56; see also supra text accompanying notes 5-6. Circumcision often remains the only tenet of religion that is practiced by secular Jews. Helen T. Gray, `You Shall Keep My Covenant'; Brit Milah, the Jewish Ritual of Circumcision., Perpetuates a `Generational Link' Kan. City Star, Jan 31, 1995, at E1.
       225. Romberg, supra note 1, at 38.
       226. Lutsche, supra note 78, at 38.
       227. see sources cited supra note 5.
       228. Lutsche, supra note 78, at 38.
       229. Id. at 37.
       230. Id. at 37-38.
       231. Id.
       232. Id.
       233. Romberg, supra note 1, at 55.
       234. Id.; Vayyiqra/Leviticus 9:28; Bereshit/Genesis 1:27.
       235. Vayyiqra/Leviticus 19:28.
       236. Bereshit/Genesis 1:27.
       237. Romberg, supra note 1, at 55.
       238. Denny, supra note 200, at 299.
       239. Id. at 299.
       240. Mutilate, supra note 206, at 9 (citing The Cow 2:124).
       241. Denny, supra note 200, at 299.
       242. Mutilate, supra note 206, at 11.
       243. Id.
       244. Id.
       245. Id.
       246. Id, at 14.
       247. Romberg, supra note 1, at 86.
       248. Id. at 86-88. Romberg cites several sections of the new Testament which denounce circumcision: Galatians 5:1, Philippians 3:2.
       249. Romberg, supra note 1, at 88.
       250. Id. at 91.
       251. see sources cited supra note 6; see supra text accompanying notes 231-37.
       252. Culture, supra note 18, at 1949.

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(File revised 16 September 2003)