Snapdragon is a girl, so we will not have to make a decision re: circumcision this time around. Still, the topic comes up from time to time on forums and parenting sites, so I've thought a bit about my position.
In general, I think that questions of body modification should be left to the person inhabiting the body. Body modification runs a broad spectrum — from hair cuts/coloring to ear piercing to tattoos to sex reassignment surgery — and I think that it is difficult to decide what choices should be in the hands of the parents and which in the hands of the child before age 18. My general rule hinges on reversibility. A hair cut is reversible, so a parent can cut a 2-year-old's hair without doing irreparable harm. Ear piercings can close, but leave minor scars, so it should be the child's choice, but I would probably entrust that decision to a 6-yr-old. Body modifications that involve a higher risk of serious infection or are harder to reverse should probably wait until the child is a teen and can offer informed consent.
Since I believe in the importance of bodily autonomy, I would not circumcise an infant.
Here are some of the pro-circumcision arguments I have encountered:
A circumcised penis is easier to clean. Just teach your son to retract his foreskin and wash thoroughly. You'll have to help him out when he's an infant, but this seems a minor concern to me. I wouldn't cut off an ear because it is hard to clean.
He should look like his dad. I wonder how often fathers and sons engage in penis-comparing sessions. Maybe when dad shows junior how to use a urinal? Surely, a young child would notice other differences (size, hairiness) before commenting on the status of their foreskins. Is this really a major concern for people?
He'll be teased in the locker room. Maybe this was true once, but not anymore. About 50% of American boys are circumcised and about 50% are not. It hardly seems likely that not being circumcised will be a tease-worthy offense in the locker rooms of 2025.
It looks better/Girls prefer cut to uncut. I think that cosmetic concerns of this variety should be left up to the person whose junk is being chopped. Just because mommy and daddy think it looks better doesn't mean junior will. If he wants to get snipped when he turns 18, I would not object at all.
Circumcision protects against STDs. Recent studies of HIV transmission in Africa indicate that circumcised men are less likely to contract HIV after having sex with an infected partner than uncircumcised men. Yet, the protection is nowhere near as complete as using a condom. Teach your son to use a condom. It protects against STDs and pregnancy!
Circumcision is a religious/cultural tradition in our family. Well, there's really no arguing with that. Religious rituals are inherently impervious to rational scrutiny, so there's no use in debating them. Needless to say, as an atheist, I have no reason to circumcise my son for religious reasons.
I just haven't heard any arguments that I find compelling enough to make me consider lopping off a piece of my baby's body. Can anyone present me with a more convincing pro-circumcision argument?