March 10, 2015
Norway hospital does first ritual circumcisionA newborn baby had his foreskin surgically removed on Monday under local anaesthetic, while his Muslim parents waited outside the operating room.
“They were very happy,” Ole Tysland, head of surgery at Sørlandet Hospital in Kristiansand, said of the couple. “Most people are glad that we now have the possibility to do this in the hospital.”
Tysland said that several doctors in his hospital believed carrying out the operation was unethical.
“They would say that this is a type of surgery that is not indicated. It’s more a tradition than a necessary operation,” he said. “But they don’t have to do it. We have found other doctors that don’t mind, so we use a doctor who thinks this is OK.”
He said that the hospital did not allow religious officials, or even the children’s parents, into the operating theatre while the circumcision was taking place.
“They stand outside the door and they take the child when we come out with it, and I don’t think it’s a problem. They accept this way of doing it.”
Ritual circumcision has in theory been available under Norway’s public health system since January 1st, following a bill in parliament in 2013.
But it has taken several months for hospitals to start carrying out the operation.
Dr Tysland said that Sørlandet was only offering ritual circumcision to boys under four weeks old, as otherwise the child would require an expensive general anaesthetic.
Norwegian Health Minister Bent Høie caused an uproar in the international Jewish community when he first proposed regulating circumcision, known as Brit Milah in the Jewish community, at the start of last year.
In the end, Norway’s government stopped short of mandating hospital circumcision, instead only insisting that a doctor must be present.
It did, however, rule that public hospitals must start offering the operation to encourage Jewish and Muslim parents to have it done in the safest possible way.