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|Meet the Woman Who Wants to Outlaw Circumcision in Santa Monica|
By Melonie Magruder
June 1, 2011 – It's no longer news that the Santa Monica City Clerk’s office is preparing a ballot title and summary for an initiative to outlaw circumcision.
But who is the local resident whose name appears on the documents filed with the clerk and why is she taking this stand?
“You spend nine months creating something perfect before giving birth, then you mutilate that perfection,” Jena Troutman, a birth educator and Certified Lactation Educator, told The Lookout a week after she filed the papers.
Male circumcision has been a tradition in both the Jewish and Muslim religions for centuries. In the United States, it was a routine part of neonatal care for much of the 20th century, performed on up to 90 percent of American baby boys without respect to religion.
So why the push to create a law against the procedure?
“There is no medical reason for cutting babies,” Troutman claimed. “A lot of states don’t even allow Medicaid to pay for circumcisions anymore. Why should you, as a taxpayer, be forced to pay for a medically unnecessary procedure?”
Troutman is working with an organization called mgmbill.org. They have been working across the nation to submit draft bills to Congress and 14 state legislatures to “end male genital mutilation in the U.S.,” according to their website.
One of their arguments is based on the notion of equal protection under the law.
In 1996, the U.S. Congress banned female genital mutilation, a procedure common in African countries amongst tribes that insist the ritualistic practice is long-held tradition, the anti-circumcision argument runs. Foreign women have been granted political asylum in the U.S. to avoid being forced to undergo the procedure.
Proponents of measures like Troutman's say that the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause requires each state to provide equal protection to all people within its jurisdiction, and this includes baby boys.
Troutman sees a ban on male genital mutilation as a natural step.
“This is why there is no exception for religious practices in our bill,” Troutman said. “Protection is protection. I don’t touch the subject of religion with this legislation. But there are a lot of Jews who are against the practice.”
Troutman reserves her greatest condemnation for the use of harvested foreskins, claiming that hospitals and doctors sell the tissue to biomedical companies that create anti-aging cosmetics.
“There’s a company called Skin Medica that uses something called Human Fibroblast Conditioned Media that involves foreskin tissue,” Troutman said. “So doctors, hospitals, biomedical companies and cosmetic firms profit from our babies’ torture.”
A call to Skin Medica seeking clarification was not returned by the time this article went to print.
Troutman is unfazed by the 7,000 to 10,000 signatures she must gather within 180 days to make sure the initiative qualifies for the November 2012 ballot. She plans on stationing herself outside libraries, grocery stores and schools until she has met her goal.
“Even Dr. Spock said circumcision was not necessary or desirable,” Troutman said. “My goal is to educate parents to give them a choice. Because our babies are perfect as they come out.”
The bill mirrors a ballot initiative proposed in San Francisco, which has qualified for the November 2011 ballot there.
The new municipal code would make it unlawful to “circumcise, excise, cut or mutilate… any part of the foreskin… of another person who has not attained the age of 18 years.” Penalties for violating the provisions could be a fine up to $1,000 and/or a year in county jail.
“You spend nine months creating something perfect before giving birth, then you mutilate that perfection.” Jena Troutman
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