On the 14th of January, last year, a private citizen known as Charles A. Antonnelli filed a bill to the Massachusetts Legislature. On the 2nd of March, this year, Georganne Chapin, J.D., the Executive Director of the organization Intact America, gave her testimony to the Massachusetts Legislature’s Joint Committee on the Judiciary about the proposed Senate Bill 1777, which is also known as the Massachusetts State Prohibition of Genital Mutilation Act. This bill is designed to be a state-level modification of the earlier Federal Prohibition on Female Genital Mutilation Act, which outlawed circumcision for female babies in America. Astonishingly, this bill was never amended by order of the Supreme Court to give equal protection to male infants, as the first section of the 14th Amendment demands, with its famous equal protection’s clause. This bill is to be that amending, in at least one State.
The bill borrows heavily in wording from the federal act, by clearly defining what constitutes an act of “genital mutilation”. The Massachusetts bill will continue to prohibit any cutting or infibulations of the labia majora, labia minora, and clitoris; and, it will add the penis, glans, foreskin, nipple, breast, and vulva to the list of protected organs, thereby granting fundamental and equal protections to babies of both genders.
Other than this being the beginning of equal treatment under the law for men and boys, there are many other reasons to be ecstatic about this bill. For those who don’t know, circumcision is an unnecessary medical procedure, which permanently removes many vital tissues. Included are 24,000 nerve endings that these boys and men will never get back, of which all of the meissner’s corpuscles, which are the fine-touch receptors. Volume 99 Issue 4 of the British Journal of Urology records how much neurological damage is done by circumcision; and, charts the lack of sensitivity in a circumcised penis. Neither the American Association of Pediatrics nor the American Medical Association support routine neonatal circumcision, and for good reason.
It’s hard to imagine how this procedure ever began in this country; but, it’s not that old. Circumcision began to be practiced and advocated for in the late 1870’s, as a “cure for masturbation”. It was out of a hatred for male sexuality that this practice grew and became standard among families. The practice of cutting off large sections of boy’s penises came immediately after the period when parents forced young boys into strange chastity belts to prevent them from so much as touching themselves. Psychiatrists during this period are now famous for declaring that masturbation lead to insanity. Being the sane people they obviously were, they opted for tying babies down to flay them alive.
This Bill is being met with harsh criticism, primarily from religious fundamentalists, who claim that this bill removes their 1st Amendment Rights to free religious practice; but, how could their freedoms be infringed, when it’s neither their body nor the religion of the baby’s, per se? They claim a religious right to the bodies of others. The bodies in question are sovereign beings, who deserve the right to do with their body what they want, and not be forced to have what others want done to it. Not to lean on old clichés; but, his body, his choice. If he wants to be circumcised, he can choose to have the procedure done at the age of adulthood. After all, it’s his body right, or do others own it?
If those, who oppose the bill, continue to claim their religious right to do with his body what they want, then what do we do, when other religions claim ownership of their bodies? The Jews may claim a religious right to take knives to the bodies of babies; but, the Muslims claim a religious right to take knives to the bodies of Jews. Both of these practices are against the secular laws of our nation, and it is more than reasonable to prohibit both, for the same reasons. Religion is not a sufficient reason to maim and assault others, whether a baby or an adult.
To be perfectly blunt, there is no reason sufficient for forcing this upon anyone, and Massachusetts may yet earn great praise in the history books for being the first state to end this abomination. After all, Senate Bill 1777’s very name has historical significance: July 8th of 1777 was when Vermont became the first state to abolish slavery, and adopt male suffrage. It’s a sign that this bill is long overdue, after all, baby boys are not the property of their parents and they deserve a voice too.