A proposed ballot initiative in 2011 would have protected all children from genital mutilation. It gathered sufficient support to appear on the ballot, but was removed by the San Francisco Superior Court, which argued that local municipalities don’t have authority to regulate “medical procedures”. The fact that genital mutilation is an act of violence against children, rather than a medical procedure, was apparently lost on this court.
This initiative tragically backfired, since in response California enacted AB 768, which prohibited all municipalities in the state from protecting children from foreskin amputation:
…(b) No city, county, or city and county ordinance, regulation, or administrative action shall prohibit or restrict the practice of male circumcision, or the exercise of a parent’s authority to have a child circumcised…
While this law is vague, it seems to imply that a male child in California is totally at the mercy of his parents up until his 18th birthday, before which they have absolute authority to destroy his foreskin at any time and for any reason.
In 2014 The Finland Times reported that “A draft law aimed at banning circumcision has received considerable support from the lawmakers in parliament.”
‘MPs support law proposed to ban circumcision’ Finland Times
In 2018 the Icelandic parliament considered a bill which would have extended to all children the protections already in place for girls. The proposed punishment for perpetrators was six years in prison.
Writing in the Journal of Medical Ethics, Notini and Earp concluded:
While the bill concerns circumcisions not performed for “health reasons,” it does not define the term ‘health.’ This is an oversight, as the term is not self-evident…. Parents and practitioners are left to apply their own discretion about whether a circumcision is requested for ‘health reasons,’ effectively rendering even the most well-intentioned legislation moot.
Efforts to legally ban male circumcision of minors are under way in Denmark, as reported by the New York Times in 2018 and the European Commission in 2020.
For more details, see the presentation by Lena Nyhus at the Intact 2022 symposium in Atlanta.