Brad Sherman is a Democratic congressman from Sherman Oaks. Sherman is Jewish and an ardent supporter of Jewish causes. In 2011, Sherman introduced the so-called "Religious and Parental Rights Defense Act of 2011" (H.R. 2400) in the House of Representatives, the first pro-circumcision bill in the history of the United States of America. He also encouraged a former employee of his, California State Assemblyman Mike Gatto, to introduce a similar bill in the state of California.
The slogan on Sherman's webpage states that he's "Serving the San Fernando Valley" (of Southern California). It should be noted that the circumcision rate is very low (below 20%) in the San Fernando Valley, and therefore Sherman is not representing his district.
Sherman introduced a bill entitled "Religious and Parental Rights Defense Act of 2011". This bill was designed to stop a San Francisco bill from reaching the voters that would ban infant circumcision without immediate medical necessity. The proposed bill attempts to dictate the medical validity of circumcision, declaring that:
|“||Male circumcision carries significant medical benefits, including lower risk of sexually-transmitted diseases, certain kinds of infection, and overall improved hygiene.|
– Sherman, B.
Sherman's proposed bill unabashedly includes a clause that defies the 1st Amendment, which states that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion":
|“||Male circumcision is an important part of many world religions, including Judaism and Islam, and observers have safely embraced its practice for generations [...]|
– Sherman, B.
By codifying statements that no medical organization in and outside of the United States has ever dared to make, Sherman's bill takes an unfounded position against the best medical authorities of the West, within and outside of the United States. The trend of opinion on routine male circumcision is so overwhelmingly negative in industrialized nations that it would be quite surprising were male circumcision to be recommended in the United States. No respected U.S. based medical board recommends circumcision for U.S. infants, not even in the name of HIV prevention. They all point to the risks, and they all state that there is no convincing evidence that the benefits outweigh these risks.
Regarding hygiene, according the "Circumcision Policy Statement" produced by the "Task Force on Circumcision" appointed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, which was published in Pediatrics in 1999 and reaffirmed on September 1, 2005, "there is little evidence to affirm the association between circumcision status and optimal penile hygiene".
|“||I agree with the American Academy of Pediatrics that parents should clearly have the right to freely decide whether circumcision is in the best interests of their male children... In fact, American parents have chosen circumcision for over 75 percent of male children.|
– Sherman, B.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has made no such statement. The AAP does say in their latest position statement that they "recommend that the decision to circumcise is one best made by parents," but it also says "... [the] benefits are not sufficient... to recommend that all infant boys be circumcised." Additionally, according to the latest CDC reports, the rates of circumcision averaged at 55% in America between 1999 and 2010. At AIDS 2010, Vienna, the CDC had announced that the circumcision rate dropped to 32.5% in 2009. Either Congressman Brad Sherman is out of touch with reality, or he is being willfully ignorant to the facts.
Sherman said he did not consult the text of the Federal Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Act of 1995 in composing the bill he will put forth in Congress. When asked about the similarities between male and female circumcision, and the 1996 ban on female circumcision, Sherman said:
|“||I think people who make that analogy are so wrong that their thinking does not color my thinking [...]|
– Brad Sherman (JewishJournal)
Sherman added that he:
|“||would angrily denounce anyone who thought I should consider any talk of female circumcision and male circumcision in the same conversation. They are not analogous.|
– Brad Sherman (JewishJournal)
Female circumcision (ritual nicking) is less harmful and less invasive than male circumcision, yet has been illegal since 1996. Apparently, Sherman doesn't think boys deserve the same kind of legal protection from harm that girls deserve.
Impending fight over a congressional seat
Initial statewide redistricting plans show Sherman's district being consolidated with Rep. Howard Berman's, D-Los Angeles district, which means an impending fight over one congressional seat. Both men are Jewish, as is an important chunk of the proposed constituency. It is speculated that, in addition to his Jewish convictions, Sherman may have introduced the bill to gain popularity.
Mike Gatto, a 36-year-old Assemblyman joined the fray over circumcision at the state level to prevent cities in California from banning circumcision, after a conversation with his former boss, Brad Sherman. Gatto had this to say about Sherman:
|“||He talked to me about how important the issue [circumcision] was, and it was, quite frankly, an easy sell [...]
[...] there are a lot of Christians, too, who believe that circumcision dates back to the origins of our faith.|
– Mike Gatto
- Mike Gatto -- Pro-circumcision California Representative (worked for Sherman for 5 years).
- Committee for Parental Choice and Religious Freedom -- A group dedicated to California's pro-circumcision bill.
- Daniel Halperin -- Spoke in support of California's pro-circumcision bill.
- Edgar J. Schoen -- Spoke in support of California's pro-circumcision bill.
- Brad Sherman Loses His Cool With A Constituent -- A questioner asks Sherman about his conflicts of interest.
- Lowenfeld, Jonah (15 June 2011)."Circumcision fight moves to California State Legislature", Tribe Media Corp., JewishJournal.com. Retrieved 17 September 2011.
- (14 June 2011).
Sherman to Introduce Bill to Protect Male Circumcision, United States House of Representatives. Retrieved 17 September 2011.
- Lowenfeld, Jonah (11 May 2011)."Circumcision fight moves to California State Legislature", Jewish Journal. Retrieved 28 September 2011. "It was a conversation with his former boss that convinced the 36-year-old Assemblyman to join the fray over circumcision at the state level..."
- (14 June 2011).
Congresman Brad Sherman, United States House of Representatives. Retrieved 17 September 2011.
- Sherman, B. (24 June 2011).
Bill summary & status 112th congress (2011 - 2012) h.r.2400.
- (1 March 1999): American Academy of Pediatrics: Circumcision Policy Statement; Task Force on Circumcision, in: Pediatrics. 103 (3): 686-693.
- Sherman, B. (14 June 2011).
Sherman to introduce bill to protect male circumcision.
- (23 March 2011).
Where We Stand: Circumcision, AAP Official Website.
- Bcheraoui, Charbel El / Xinjian Zhang / Sanjyot Shinde / Peter H. Kilmarx / Robert T. Chen / Maria Owings (2 September 2011): Trends in In-Hospital Newborn Male Circumcision --- United States, 1999--2010, in: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). 60 (34): 1167-1168. Retrieved 24 September 2011. Quote:
Incidence of newborn male circumcision decreased...
- Rabin, Roni Caryn (18 August 2010)."Steep Drop Seen in Circumcisions in U.S.", The New York Times. Retrieved 17 September 2011.
- Harris, Lynn (16 February 2010)."Female genital mutilation in the U.S.: No compromise", The Associated Press (Salon Media Group, Inc). Retrieved 18 September 2011. "Have you ever seen a male circumcision? Surely if we condone that then a simple nick of the prepuce is a tiny price to pay to prevent something more extreme [...]"
- Griffin, Melissa (26 July 2011)."San Francisco circumcision ban will be cut short", The Examiner. Retrieved 28 September 2011. "Note that initial statewide redistricting plans show Sherman's district being consolidated [...]"
- Griffin, Melissa (26 July 2011)."San Francisco circumcision ban will be cut short", The Examiner. Retrieved 28 September 2011. "I think Sherman would have taken the same action regardless of the circumstances, but saving traditional circumcision certainly can’t hurt his popularity at this critical time."