Pro-choice, Pro-circumcision

Over on Facebook, someone in my feed dropped this gem:

You cannot be pro choice yet support circumcision

I’d never seen these two issues (abortion ethics and circumcision) juxtaposed before. Maybe I should get out more? The resulting “discussion” (typical of FB) suggests that others found the abutment of these ideas as arresting as I did.

Wondering how this audience might analyze the italicized sentence above, I post it here, hoping that this thread will not evolve into a discussion of the pros and cons of circumcision, its significance or else its irrelevance, and so forth. Leaving all that aside (if possible), how do you evaluate what is affirmed in the quote above? Is it true? False? Either way, why?

The only way I can see to interpret it is that the parents are not letting the boy make the decision about his body. His body, his choice. Is there some other way to read it?

The anti-circumcision rhetoric is strong in one part of the Red Pill movement, FYI. I would not be surprised if it is a Red Pill proponent trying to make an equivalence for the sake of moving the ball forward on stopping circumcision.

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Didn’t know it was red pill.

When I lived in the Bay Area there was a group of feminists who regularly would go out in San Francisco to protest against circumcision and for abortion at the same protest. “His body his choice”. They were very vocal about how Christianity and Judaism forces sexual repression upon boys through circumcision — arguments about circumcision destroying pleasure nerves, etc. The same Christianity that forces sexual repression upon women by forcing them to have children is the same one that is doing “violence” against male sex lives.

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It was a Red Pill documentary that caused me to see clearly that the entire movement is based on feminism’s presuppositions. So, although they think they are throwing it off, they are actually still deeply drinking from the poisoned well that they hate.

It was also that documentary where I learned that they had adopted this anti-circumcision position.

I figured the stuff in San Francisco (didn’t they ban circumcision a few years ago?) probably didn’t originate with Red Pill, though.

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Not sure if they banned it or not. But I just remember chalking the stance up to another manifestation of feminist hatred against anything God appoints. They are hating on the in your face patriarchal sign of the old covenant. Sons, males, circumcision, father authority…


In my experience, people who frame arguments like this are generally arguing in bad faith from the beginning. Your Facebook interlocutor may be a counter-example, but I generally disregard such rhetorical techniques. I’m generally more familiar with the form of argument as, “You can’t be pro-life and against gun control,” or the old chestnut, “You people are only pro-birth: If you were really pro-life, you’d support [laundry list of social welfare programs].” In general, there are good reasons for the bundles of positions held by people, and framing an argument as “please help me understand why you are for x but against y” is a much healthier way to discuss the same issues.

I think I watched that same documentary, and yes, that movie very much adopted feminism’s “equality” frame and applied it to men and men’s rights. I think the equality framing is much more common among the Men’s Rights Activists subset of the Red Pill movement, if it can even be called a “movement.” There are other strains of thought. Repealing the 19th Amendment is a pretty fringe position in 2020 America, but to the extent that you can find it, you’ve probably found the Red Pill or something pretty Red-Pill-adjacent.

FWIW, accepting that “equality” framing is an example of adopting our culture’s dominant leftist ideology, IMHO.


My contribution at the FB discussion was this:

  1. First, there is no context (for me) for that statement. I never thought of the Red Pill thang, and I don’t even know what that means. Truly, I ought to get out more.

  2. As it floats out there all by its lonesome, the statement seems to present a contradiction in ethical standards.

Pro-choice advocates affirm the moral entitlement of a pregnant woman to do with her body whatever she pleases - to have a baby or to refuse to carry on a pregnancy and, so, to abort the pregnancy. It’s her body, her choice.

Pro-circumcision ostensibly affirms the moral duty to circumcise a male infant. In this case, circumcision imposes a change in the body of the male child which he is not choosing. Rather it is his parent(s) who do so. It’s his body, but not his choice.

If this is a correct analysis of abortion and circumcision, then it’s a contradiction of ethical values to be pro-choice and also pro-circumcision.

  1. This is, of course, an incorrect analysis of abortion and circumcision. Correctly evaluated, both are exactly the same thing (that is, as far as the ethical dynamics are concerned):

In circumcision, the male child’s body is altered wholly apart from his choice, wholly as a choice by someone else.

In abortion, the male or female child’s body is altered wholly apart from the baby’s choice, except the result is not whether a male child shall have a foreskin, but whether he will live at all.

It’s a stringent, inviolable tenet of abortion advocates that the inhabitant of the womb is not a person.


I would simply point out someone could be pro circumcision, opposed, or neutral without necessarily calling it a moral duty. They could hold those views because of tradition, medical reasons, or for some other reason. Their rationale could vary.