Andrew Yang, one of the lesser-known candidates in the Democratic pool is making a name for himself by taking on what he considers to be a public health issue, and that's circumcision. Yang wants people to know that the procedure is not necessary to ensure the health of a male infant.
The Daily Beast spoke to Yang after he responded to a tweet asking him about his opinion on the routine circumcision of infant males. On Twitter, Yang answered a question by saying that he was against the practice, but in his Daily Beast interview, he elaborated, saying he would go further, incorporating his view into public policy. He wants parents to know that babies don't need to be circumcised routinely for health reasons. Yang called it a "cultural onus" pushed on families.
"It's sort of pushed on parents in many situations."Yang's campaign website includes many positions, but it's his alignment with people called "intactivists" that goes deep into the circumcision debate. Members of this group believe in keeping the penis intact unless there is a particular reason not to.
"I'm highly aligned with the intactivists. History will prove them even more correct."Yang explained that he had intended to have his own sons circumcised, fearing they'd be "self-conscious," but his wife convinced him otherwise.
"From what I've seen, the evidence on it being a positive health choice for the infant is quite shaky."Yang says that as part of a policy initiative he wants parents to know that it is their choice and that there are possible costs and benefits either way. He explains that he's all for clearing up the misconceptions, which will, in turn, improve society.
The American Academy of Pediatrics believes it should be the choice of parents, but says the upside of the procedure are a "reduced chance of sexually transmitted diseases and urinary tract infections."
Intactivists, including Georganne Chapin, the head of the intactivist group, Intact America, say that circumcision interferes with adult sex lives. She says that taking off an infant's foreskin is similar to removing their "lips or fingers."
"I'm not optimistic that [Yang] coming out against circumcision will make him popular, but I think it's wonderful."But Yang's alliance with the intactivists has gotten him another group of followers on the alt-right spectrum, who believe his stand against circumcision is a veiled jab against Jews and Muslims. Yang has been clear that he doesn't want support from white nationalists or anti-Semites, and would never support a ban on the practice.