Earlier this month a German court banned the practice of circumcision on the grounds it causes bodily harm to babies. The decision upset Jewish and Muslim communities in Germany because they claimed making the ritual criminal violated their religious freedom. While I believe that circumcision on babies shouldn’t be performed by the medical community unless the child consents or it is medically necessary, I’m not sure if the practice by religious practitioners should be made criminal.
Martin Boese, a University of Bonn law professor, said the court based its decision on whether the need for the procedure justifies the surgery.
“The difference between circumcision and surgery is that there is a reason to do a surgery — it’s for the health of the child,” Boese said. “In this case, the court says religious reasons are not enough to justify this kind of surgery.”
Boese said the ruling also raised questions about the religious rights of the child. “I think this is the first case where this question comes up: Are the parents entitled to give their consent or not?”
In their ruling, the Cologne judges concluded circumcision went “against the interests of a child to decide later for himself what religion he wishes to belong to.”
I agree with the court that ritual circumcision causes bodily harm and is rarely medically necessary. To me it’s like piercing an ear if your religion thinks that’s needed but does little to nothing to help with a baby’s health.
Several medical organizations like the American Medical Association think circumcision should not be a routine medical procedure:
Although potential medical benefits are associated with newborn male circumcision, these data are not sufficient to recommend routine performance of this procedure on medical grounds.
Like surgery there are risks even if the procedure is done outside of a hospital by a trained religious practitioners such as during a bris.
I think that circumcision should be left up to the child to decide when they are old enough to understand the process. There should be detailed information given to all parents about why circumcision should not be done unless it is medically necessary including the current studies and the possible negative consequences.
Medical professionals should be prohibited from doing the procedure unless it is medically necessary and religious practitioners should follow a set of protocols to protect the health of the child and lessen the amount of pain.
Circumcision is a relic of religious beliefs and old scientific thinking.