Proposed Circumcision Ban Runs Afoul of First Amendment - Page 2
In truth, parents have the power to make lasting marks on their children in many ways. Have you ever seen a baby with pierced ears, for example? She did not consent to that procedure and it has altered her body.
The activists' claim that circumcision is akin to female genital mutilation is inapt at best and deeply offensive at worst. Female genital mutilation is a cultural practice, not a religious one. Not all Muslims perform it. And moreover, female genital mutilation is a practice born out of misogyny and its goal is to eliminate female sexual pleasure. Circumcision of Jewish infant boys is a practice born out of love and commitment to ushering our children into our faith. The majority of medical professionals agree that circumcision is not a dangerous or harmful practice in any way, and some argue that it can actually help prevent the spread of HIV. Thus the analogy to a dangerous and cruel practice like female genital mutilation is nothing more than hateful rhetoric.
While, as a Jew, I am deeply troubled by the latent anti-Semitism of these anti-circumcision measures, I am equally troubled, as a lawyer, by the utter lack of understanding so many of my fellow citizens demonstrate of our Constitution. Have any of the activists seeking to place this measure on the ballot read the First Amendment? It states, quite simply, that Congress shall make no law prohibiting the free exercise of religion. How can a ban on circumcision be interpreted as anything else? There can be no denying how fundamental a practice circumcision is to two of the world's oldest theocratic religions. While First Amendment law is notoriously complex, this case is a no-brainer. These bans would be struck down as unconstitutional at the earliest possible stages of litigation and the whole effort will have been nothing more than a colossal waste of resources.
Nevertheless, what remains in the minds of Jewish and Muslim Americans is the knowledge that thousands of our fellow citizens have this little respect for our right to practice our religion and this little understanding of one of the founding values of our nation: religious freedom.