To pierce or not to pierce?
That is no longer the question in New York state for those under the age of 18 who don't have a parent's permission.
A bill passed overwhelmingly by the state Legislature was signed into law Monday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
It takes effect 88 days from now, and anyone younger than 18 will have to have written permission from a parent or guardian to have any body part other than ears pierced.
This comes on the heels of last month's state action banning children 16 and younger from indoor tanning beds. Existing law prohibits tattoos for those under 18.
In "M*A*S*H," we loved Hawkeye Pierce.
We think James Bond was well-portrayed by Pierce Brosnan.
We could even appreciate "Mildred Pierce."
But for the life of us, we don't quite understand the allure of piercing anything other than an ear or two.
And yet, we see more and more young people with metal in their noses, lips, tongues, eyebrows and places we would rather not contemplate.
All well and good. This is America, after all, land of the free. That certainly includes the freedom for individuals to get piercings.
Unless, of course, they are under 18. Society figures that people who haven't reached that age aren't capable of making sound decisions. If you're under a certain age, you can't vote, serve in the Armed Forces or have sex legally.
So, it stands to reason that you aren't ready to make a good call on whether to stick a metal object through your belly button.
"Body piercing can result in severe health risks and it is our obligation as New Yorkers and parents to make sure that our teens are taking every precaution to remain healthy and safe," Cuomo said in a statement.
Cuomo's office warned against hepatitis from piercings and said that 20 percent of body piercings result in infections.
State Sen. Joseph Robach and Assemblyman Michael Simanowitz co-sponsored the bill.
"As body piercings can often result in infection and a permanent scar, it seems logical that parents should be involved in the decision," Robach said in a statement.
"There are 31 states that prohibit body piercing on minors without parental permission," said Simanowitz in a statement, "and I am now glad to say New York is the 32nd."
Well, so are we.
Once young people reach 18, they can do as they please. There's even a Church of Body Modification in Texas that began in 1999 and has about 1,000 members who advocate growing "as individuals through body modification and its teachings" to "promote growth in mind, body and spirit."
But, in New York, at least, not until you're at least 18.