I wanted to put this into a blog post because there is way too much here to put in a tweet or two.
But this is something that regularly comes up when I or others talk about circumcision. We get asked if we are pro life or pro choice, and somebody always says "if you are pro choice for abortion, how can you be against circumcision?"
Well, it's simple, to me.
Had a mini-tweet conversation with @johnhalton regarding religious circumcision and where I stand on that. As I explained to him, while I am against circumcision, I do not think it is necessary to ban it entirely. I think that the system we have here in the UK, where the NHS does not fund circumcision for medical reasons, and the fact that doctors are reasonably educated generally about foreskins and do not in most cases jump to circumcision at the slightest hint of a problem, is enough to keep circumcision to a reasonable level. Banning it entirely would cause people to go to backstreet circumcisionists and children whose parents chose it would be at a higher risk of botched operations and long term complications.
I'd like to see it be eradicated entirely, as I do ultimately think circumcision of non consenting infants is wrong. But I do not see that happening and especially in America where it is so entrenched in society.
Similarly, with abortion. I do not like abortion. I was pro-life for a long, long time, because I felt that every person, and I do see a fetus as a person, deserves life. Regardless of how they came into the world, and regardless of if they have a disability. BUT - the Baby P case hit headlines here in the UK, and I realised that if we had less abortions, there would be a LOT more abused, unwanted, neglected children out there. I don't have to go into detail about what happened to Baby P but I really think a child is better off aborted than subject to the kind of living hell that child and many others are put through every day.
It goes without saying I think as well that if you criminalise abortion, you remove a woman's right to decide about the fate of her own body, as well as her fetus'. And as with circumcision, you force women to go to backstreet abortionists which as we know from history is very dangerous to their health.
Now, let's compare this to circumcision. Circumcision ONLY affects the person whose body the penis belongs to. It does not affect the parents, or anybody else in the family. So in this case, it seems quite clear who the decision on whether or not cosmetic alteration should take place on said body. With abortion - we can't just consider the fetus, but we also have to consider the woman's physical, mental and emotional health.