One way societies justify the inexcusable is to cloak it in euphemism. Dress it up. It’s interesting to see some of the ways this happens with circumcision.

A private insurance company serving the United Arab Emirates has joined the United States in medicalizing and hyping the value of infant circumcision, a non-therapeutic mutilation, by making it a health insurance “benefit.”

As Dr. Sven Rohte, Chief Commercial Officer of the UAE’s Daman insurance company, extolled: “We are glad to be able to include circumcision coverage to the list of premium benefits our members enjoy…. [I]t is clear that we have created a special set of services to support families that are preparing to welcome a new member. We anticipate that 2,500 newborn baby boys will benefit in the first year alone.”

Premium. Enjoy. Welcome. Benefit. … words meant to mask what is nothing more than a cynical business decision to pander to an unethical cultural practice by commodifying a medically unjustifiable surgery for profit.

When religious, physician, and “human rights” groups joined to get the proposed restrictions on the non-therapeutic circumcision of minors struck from the ballot in San Francisco, they employed similarly grandiloquent rhetoric. In an Amicus brief filed with the Court, the ACLU of Northern California characterized infant circumcision as an opportunity for a baby to “participate in an essential religious ritual.”

Participate. Essential. … aspirational language that denies the autonomy of an individual unable to choose to partake in such rituals, nor to even be conscious of them as such – except in the worst way, as unjustifiable physical abuse.

In Colorado, where the legislature is attempting to restore circumcision to the list of covered services under Medicaid, Senator Irene Aguilar says: “It [is] about giving people who live in poverty the same choices that people who have money get…that is why it is such a social justice issue to me.”

Choice. Social Justice. … Righteous words on the surface, but applied in gross denial of the rights of the person who should be entitled to benefit from them. 

Lipstick on a pig.

Georganne Chapin