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San Diegan’s anti-circumcision bill gets a hearing in Massachusetts

March 16, 2010 - 12:15 pm

UPDATE 03/17/10: According to the Foreskin Restoration/Intactivist Network message board, the bill was rejected yesterday. The Boston Herald indicates that it was more a matter of time running out than the legislature’s objection to the specific bill.

Is that a bill in Matt Hess’ pocket, or is he just excited that a legislative committee in Massachusetts held a public hearing on his proposal to end the circumcision of baby boys?

Back in January, CityBeat published a cover story on circumcision that included a profile of the Pacific Beach-based author of the Male Genital Mutilation Bill, a piece of legislation that would prohibit the circumcision of baby boys the same way many states ban the practice of female genital mutilation.

Although Hess has written versions of the bills for various state legislatures and Congress, Massachusetts is the only state where the bill has been formally introduced. Previously, the bill died in committee without a hearing.

On March 2, Hess traveled to Boston to testify at a joint Judiciary committee hearing in the Massachusetts General Court, the state’s legislature. Among his comments:

Although proponents of infant male circumcision argue that there are potential medical benefits when the foreskin is removed, similar if not greater benefits would be achieved by removing other functional body parts. To use just one example, if a physician were to remove healthy breast tissue from a baby girl to protect her from breast cancer one day in the future, that would be considered both unethical and illegal, and rightly so. Why, then, do we make an exception for the male foreskin?

What we are proposing is not a radical measure. We are not calling for a complete ban on male circumcision, nor are we seeking to pass judgment on those who elect to undergo this procedure. All we are asking is that circumcision not be permitted until the adult male gives his own consent.

To address the argument that granting this right would violate our freedom of religion, the courts have consistently stated that while parents are free to make martyrs of themselves, they are not free to make martyrs of their children.

Girls have been legally protected from all types of genital cutting since 1997 under Title 18 of the United States Code. By extension, the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution requires that the same protection be given to boys. I respectfully ask you to honor that requirement in Massachusetts by enacting the MGM Bill.

All told, 17 people testified for the bill, three against, and one speaker was neutral, Hess reports back to CityBeat.

“I was pretty impressed actually by how they allowed everyone to say what they had to say without to cutting anyone off,” Hess says, no pun intended.

The committee did not vote on the bill, but Hess says he’s expecting one soon–unless the legislature decided to shelve it again. He’s at a loss to guess which way such a vote would go.

“It’s tough to say,” Hess says. “They were, overall, pretty attentive and clearly our message got through…It’s the first hearing on a male circumcision bill, so I don’t have any idea how they’ll vote since its the first that’s ever happened.”

Hess has published the transcript of his testimony and others’ on his website,

We are expecting one very soon, assuming it doesn’t get shelved.

We had 17 people pspeak in favor of the bill, three against and one neutral.

I was pretty impressed actually by how they allowed veyone to say what they had to say without to cutting any off . there was a 2-3 minute time limit but thye let everyone exceed that hwo had something to sya

I gave my testimony, I was the hgtird one. I focuded on mainly equal protection and human rightsnad my testimony is actually posted on our web site. Go to home page. The transcripts.

It’s tough tot say they were over all pretty attentive and listening and clearly I think our message fogt through. There was an overwhelming amount of support, but I don’t think we’ll know to see how the vote turns out.

It’s the first hearing on a male circ bill. So I don’t really know. I don’t khave ay idea how thye’ll ote since it s the first that ever happened.

11 Comments leave one →
  1. March 16, 2010 - 12:28 pm 12:28 pm

    I totally, TOTALLY get this bill but I can’t shake the fact that every time I have ever seen an uncircumcised penis I, um, get on my knees and thank God that I was mutilated at birth.

  2. March 16, 2010 - 12:34 pm 12:34 pm

    How often are you on your knees in front of an uncircumcised penis, Ed? You sound like a eunuch prostitute with high job satisfaction.

  3. March 16, 2010 - 12:46 pm 12:46 pm

    not if that disgusting hood is still attached

  4. March 16, 2010 - 1:17 pm 1:17 pm

    LMAO – With double digit national and state unemployment, state government a pubic hair away from insolvency, and both the national & state economies in the shitter with no relief in site, **this** is the burning issue in the minds of San Diegans?? Circumcision? Really?

    Read your health book. One word: Smegma.

  5. March 16, 2010 - 1:26 pm 1:26 pm

    No, Peyton, San Diegans seem more obsessed with Family Guy remixes on youtube and icebergs in Lake Michigan.

  6. March 16, 2010 - 1:30 pm 1:30 pm

    I always have to laugh when people argue that the tackling of certain, more trivial issues, are a waste of the government’s time and money because we have bigger issues to contend with.

    Peyton, dude, that’s like saying the police shouldn’t give out traffic tickets because they have murderers to catch.

    Government has many departments and branches and subdivisions that deal with the myriad of issues that we as a society must face, large and small. I’m pretty sure we can have a conversation about circumcision AND the economy.

  7. March 16, 2010 - 3:07 pm 3:07 pm

    That’s fairly amusing, Dave. I had no idea that **my** blog spoke for each and every resident of San Diego County. I should be getting paid a public servant salary for the service I provide – would you mind writing something up for me on this site?

  8. March 16, 2010 - 11:21 pm 11:21 pm

    The Massachusetts Bill for genital integrity succeeded in raising public awareness of the circumcision issue. In time, the practice of cutting baby boys will stop, just as it has in other countries.

  9. hugh7 permalink
    March 17, 2010 - 7:38 pm 7:38 pm

    @Edwin Decker: do you also consider hands with all their fingers or ears with their lobes still attached to be “disgusting”? Could it be that your response is not at all “natural”, but entirely conditioned by what you are familiar with? Which prompts the question, why should any babies be cut to suit your conditioning?

    The US is the last country in the English-speaking world that still cuts healthy, non-renewable, functional body parts off a majority of its baby boys, and that majority is now quite slim – in fact a clear minority in Southern California. Almost universal in New Zealand 50 years ago, it’s now hard to find a doctor outside the largest cities who will do it. In the rest of the world it is purely a religious or tribal custom.

    @Peyton Farquhar : A one-word answer would be “earwax”. Smegma is equally toxic. And since women have more of it, what are you proposing to cut off them?

  10. March 17, 2010 - 8:04 pm 8:04 pm

    Hugh, I think you should probably go back and read my post; In particular, read what is in between the lines. I wrote that I was intellectually in favor of the concept but couldn’t “shake” the thought of the uncircumcised penis as disgusting.

    Translation: I’ve been conditioned.

    So, no, do not believe babies should be cut to suit my conditioning.

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