July 6, 2012
Ritual circumcision: religious rights of parents are at odds with the best interests of the childBy Dr Antony Lempert, Secular Medical Forum
On 26th June a district court in Cologne made a landmark ruling that parents do not have the right to circumcise their children without a medical reason.
The case centred on a 4 year old boy ...
In the same week, significant new evidence emerged in the UK of the serious complication rate from ritual circumcision. It is already well known that circumcision removes one of the most sensitive parts of the penis, affects sexual function for life and will often cause additional side effects such as bleeding, infection, urinary difficulties, and psychosexual difficulties.
As a result of a freedom of information request, it was found that, in one hospital alone in 2011, 11 baby boys needed to beadmitted to the hospital's paediatric intensive care unit with serious, life-threatening complications following circumcision. In this age group there is rarely a medical reason for circumcision so it is likely that all of these babies' lives were threatened by an operation on their normal bodies that they did not need.
In February 2012, a baby boy died in North London as a direct result of bleeding complications two days after a ritual circumcision. In this case the coroner ruled that it was a tragic, 'unforeseen' accident and that the rabbi who performed the circumcision was not to blame.
Religious justifications for ritual circumcision rest on the bankrupt premise that all baby boys born to Jews and Muslims will themselves identify with those religions and that they would want this to have been done to them in childhood. Further, the harms caused by this operation are frequently denied or diminished. Those men who dare to speak out are often humiliated and dismissed or ridiculed for daring to compare the assault on their normal genitals with the suffering of girls and women even though there is a wide spectrum of harm in both girls and boys when their genitals are cut for no therapeutic reason and the ethical principle is identical.
Circumcision apologists and advocates will often say that they have never heard any men complain so they don't believe there can be a problem. There is a problem, and it's time we addressed it.
Earlier stories: German law; death