Friday, September 7, 2012

BERLIN: Ritual circumcision conditionally permissible

September 5, 2012

Circumcision declared legal [allowable] in first of 16 German states

Ruling in Berlin city-state follows recent controversy that erupted when a Cologne court indicted a doctor with inflicting unlawful bodily harm by circumcising a 4-year-old boy.

Infant male circumcision was declared legal Wednesday in one of Germany's 16 states, following weeks of controversy about whether the Jewish and Muslim ritual is a crime or not. [What follows falls short of declaring it legal. It's more like turning a blind eye to it.]

The city-state of Berlin became the first to rule on the issue, saying its prosecutors had beeninstructed not to charge doctors if the boy's parents had consented in writing and proved they were religiously motivated.


While Berlin has moved more swiftly than the federal government or the other states to restore the procedure's legality, it has also imposed restrictions on it, including the duty to inform parents about any medical risks.

"If these criteria are fulfilled, circumcision will remain immune from prosecution," the state justice minister, Thomas Heilmann, said. "If medical standards are observed, circumcision at home or in a synagogue is also acceptable."

He said those standards included using all possible means of reducing pain and limiting bleeding. However, only doctors would be legally allowed to perform the procedure.

Heilmann said the state government did not have the power to authorize a mohel, or Jewish person trained in circumcision, to carry out the ritual. He said only the upcoming federal legislation could change that aspect of the law.

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