Should note that you said what I meant about the religion part, only you said it better than I did (since I didn't elucidate, that's not hard!). However, proponents of female circumcision have been touting its medical benefits as well as social and moral benefits for years. I believe the site to which Oniya linked up there has resource links to such things, although I didn't peel through it very closely (the legislation is something I've already supported in my state). Unless the foreskin itself is infected or some such, it really is none of the parents' business taking it off.
You well know that proponents of anything can tout medical benefits without that making them true (e.g. homoeopathy, colloidal silver, snake oil, etc). To the best of my knowledge there is no reputable research linking female genital mutilation to a medical benefit (if anyone knows of any I would be interested to read it). And social benefits (which I doubt exist) and moral benefits (which I know don't) cannot be the basis for medicine.
On the other hand, male circumcision can reduce HIV transfer rate by up to 50%. Further, male circumcision is far less physically debilitating than female circumcision. Even if there was a medical benefit to female circumcision, we would have to make a quality of life analysis that would differ for each practice. The level of threat is also different in different parts of the world. Despite being far too high for comfort, the risk of HIV exposure in the United States is far less than that in Africa of Asia, thus male circumcision for the prevention of HIV is of a commensurately lesser benefit.
In cases where there is a clear medical danger I believe that it is not only a parent's business, but also their duty to protect their child from that. I would see it as no different from getting any number of childhood vaccines. And I support the efforts of the several medical institutes attempting to introduce and popularize the concept of male circumcision in regions where the risk of HIV transfer is critically high.
Personally, I find circumcisions on par with unnecessary tonsillectomies that used to be so popular...Personally
, I would draw the parallel to the parenteral polio vaccine. A procedure children underwent at the decision of their parents which leaves a life-long scar. There is a time and place where medical benefits outweigh the disfigurement, but there is also a time when they do not. Maybe, America has moved past the need for male circumcision as it has moved past its need for the IPV, but it is apparent that there is a time and place where it is medically beneficial.
It is one of the most difficult areas of medical ethics to determine what procedures a parent can force on their child. And I am really not trying to advocate one way or the other here (in the case of the America and Western Europe). I just want a firm line drawn between male circumcision which is a procedure with a positive medical benefit, albeit one that incurs a life-long scar and minor loss of sensitivity, and female genital mutilation, which is a piece of superstitious nonsense whose quality-of-life impact far exceeds the cosmetic.
Auvert B, Taljaard D, Lagarde E, Sobngwi-Tambekou J, Sitta R, Puren A: Randomized, controlled intervention trial of male circumcision for reduction of HIV infection risk: the ANRS 1265 Trial. PLoS Med 2005,2(11):e298.
Bailey RC, Moses S, Parker CB, Agot K, Maclean I, Krieger JN, Williams CF, Campbell RT, Ndinya-Achola JO: Male circumcision for HIV prevention in young men in Kisumu, Kenya: a randomised controlled trial. Lancet 2007, 369(9562):643-656.
Gray RH, Kigozi G, Serwadda D, Makumbi F, Watya S, Nalugoda F, Kiwanuka N, Moulton LH, Chaudhary MA, Chen MZ et al: Male circumcision for HIV prevention in men in Rakai, Uganda: a randomised trial. Lancet 2007, 369(9562):657-666.
Actually, that's debatable at best. There are a number of studies saying it decreases the chances, a number saying it increases, and a number saying it does nothing. The same is true of FGC, there are studies saying it decreases chances, some saying it increases, some saying it does nothing.
Evidence? Would you care to provide some?