Flawed Circumcision Defense: California Assemblyman Mike Gatto

California Assemblyman Mike Gatto is an authoritarian. He believes that male children do not have human rights equal to the rights of their fellow citizens. Mike Gatto believes that freedom and liberty involve parental ownership of the genitals of their male children. He believes that the individual right involved in child genital cutting is exclusively the right to cut a male child without medical need. He believes that subjective, non-medical “affiliative benefits” are enough to justify surgery on a child, even if the child does not or might not want to be forcibly affiliated. California Assemblyman Mike Gatto prefers mindless, unquestioned deference to parental choices about non-therapeutic male child genital cutting.

Thankfully for Mike Gatto, his colleagues in the lesiglature and California Governor Jerry Brown share his authoritarianism. Gov. Brown signed Assembly Bill 768, which prevents local governments within California from prohibiting non-therapeutic circumcision on male minors. Now history may know that these individuals supported genital mutilation after the point at which sufficient evidence existed to understand the correct position that respects individual rights, science, and morality.

To understand what these politicians have failed to grasp, imagine a male. He is an adult. He is intact. He is healthy. He tells his parents that he has unprotected sex with HIV-positive women. What rights do his parents have to deal with this? Under the illogic of Assemblyman Gatto and his colleagues, his parents may force him to be circumcised.

But he’s an adult, so they don’t have that right, correct? Of course. Yet Mike Gatto has accepted a delineator based on age to define when the child receives his right to decide which permanent, non-therapeutic alterations he wants or does not want inflicted on his body. By legislating an endorsement of non-therapeutic genital cutting against healthy male children, Mike Gatto endorsed a form of permant parental control over a male’s genitals. Circumcising an infant creates a circumcised adult, without regard for the adult’s opinion.

Legally there’s no reason to distinguish between a healthy newborn and a healthy teen one day shy of his 18th birthday. His penis belongs to his parents, according to the worldview of Mike Gatto. We understand that there is a difference and most (probably, hopefully) think that forcibly circumcising the latter male is offensive and shouldn’t be done. But that requires us to backtrack to the age where it becomes acceptable to circumcise a healthy child for no reason. We must ask why that age and not a later age. So, what is that age? Is it 17? 13? 10? 6? 3? 1? When does it become unacceptable to cut the healthy genitals of a male, because that distinction is arbitrary? What will it require to make Mike Gatto understand that the correct age is upon birth?

California already established that there is no arbitrary, unspecified age before which parents own the genitals of their female children. They may not allow someone to take a scalpel to the genitals of their daughters for non-therapeutic reasons, even if those reasons include a parental preference for forced “affiliative benefits.” The only factor involved in any decision to cut female minors is the presence or lack of medical need. That is the ethical, scientific view, which succinctly demonstrates that genital integrity exists within human rights. Mike Gatto believes that male children have only a mere subset of human rights, a subset that does not include genital integrity. It is a flaw in his character that Mike Gatto believes the full range of human rights only belong to male adults, female adults, and female children.