Circumcision made illegal

User - posted on 07/13/2012 ( 14 moms have responded )

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How do you all feel about this? A German judge has ruled that it is illegal for doctors to carry out circumcisions on children, as "it constitutes a violation of physical integrity.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-18793...

My question is not really about the rights and wrongs of circumcision, which has been visited here many times, but rather, what implications does this ruling have for people's freedom to practise their religion?

Also will this encourage people to visit "backstreet" practitioners to have the procedure done?

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Krista - posted on 07/13/2012

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Feh. I have no problem with people practicing their religion, if they're not hurting any third parties.

If they want to lop off their own body parts to please their deities, then they're more than welcome to do so.

But I do not support ANY religion's right to harm an innocent child. That is where my tolerance ends. I do not have the right to cut off my son's earlobes for the sake of shits and giggles, and nor should another mother have the right to cut off her son's foreskin for the sake of her religion.

And we could say, "Oh, but people will just do it under unsanitary conditions!" If you look at it that way, then why not make FGM legal, because it's illegal and yet some people still do it.

Johnny - posted on 07/13/2012

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There are a lot of ritualistic religious practices that are outlawed because they cause harm. I'm not sure why routine circumcision should be any different. If the evidence is strong enough to prove that it is a harm rather than a help (and I am not saying that it is), I see no reason why religious reasons should be given any special treatment when assessing whether someone is allowed to harm another person.

There are already a subset of people in countries where FGM is outlawed who continue to seek it out and who practice it on young girls. I'm sure a similarly small portion of people will continue to do this with routine male circumcision as well.

I do not in any way support special rights for religious groups over and above those for everyone else. If an act is considered harmful and illegal, there is absolutely no reason that people should be able to do it for any reason. I absolutely fail to understand what makes people think that their belief system should give them the right to cause harm.

Becky - posted on 07/31/2012

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If it's only illegal for doctors to perform circumcisions, then it is not actually interfering with the rights of Jews to practice their religion, as they can have it done by a Mohel. If circumcision is illegal altogether, then it is preventing that. However, I agree that not all religious practices should be allowed just because they are religious practices. Certainly, we should not be allowed to sacrifice our children to please Baal or beat our wives because Mohammed says it's okay. So I don't think the decision as to whether it is legal or not should be made on the basis of it being a ritual for some religions. Rather, it should be made based on the risks vs. benefits to a child's health and well-being.
I think that rather than making it illegal right off the bat, stopping routine circumcision of infants in the hospital at birth would go a long way towards reducing the rates of RIC in the US. I know that having to find one of a handful of doctors who did it and go for a consultation where the procedure was described in detail before having the circumcision done played a huge part in our deciding not to circumcise our boys.
A doula friend of mine posted a graphic comparing the risks of circumcising vs. the risks of not circumcising. I was going to post it here, but didn't want to start another circumcision debate. However, since one's been started already, maybe I'll go find it. It's really quite surprising how much greater the risks of circumcising are over not circumcising.

Michelle - posted on 07/14/2012

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Not a good idea. It is not a medically necessary procedure so I think insurance companies should stop covering it, but making it illegal goes way too far. Backstreet circumcisions would certainly be the outcome.

Stifler's - posted on 07/13/2012

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If rape was allowed in peoples religion should the law make allowances? Pfffft. What about murder or cutting off ears? This is the 21st century, the foreskin has been known to be an important part of anatomy for years.

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Merry - posted on 07/27/2012

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I agree with the new law. It could have negative consequences but it's worth saying that circ is wrong.

Tina - posted on 07/19/2012

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I don't agree with circumcision. But I do think it will cause more problems. If people really want their children circumsized they'll find other means. I'd rather circumsision not be an option but not only will people find other means of doing it. They'll be less likely to take them to a doctor in any circumstance even infection for fear of being prosecuted. If they're going to do it their needs to be good preparation and thought put into it to make sure it wont result in bigger problems

Elfrieda - posted on 07/18/2012

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If it's illegal to circumcise an infant, I think that's wrong. It's nowhere as bad as FGM, and it's an important part of group identity for some people. If it's that doctors are banned from practicing it as a medical procedure, I think that's very reasonable. There isn't a good medical reason for it, and it sometimes causes great harm. Isn't there a special rabbi or someone who is trained in that procedure and does most of the religious ones anyway? Probably similar with imams? Anyway, I'm guessing so, so the people who get it done for religious reasons can still get it done, and the people who do it just because won't be able to. Sounds good to me.

I don't think it's a good idea to mess with a group's identity markers in such a powerful way. It's better to let the social norms influence individual members of that group and it's *their* job to change their religious customs, not the government or any wellmeaning outsiders. This idea horrifies me much more than babies getting circumcised. (just for reference, I did not circ my son and never even considered it)

Tracey - posted on 07/16/2012

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Is there a medical / religious reason why this can't wait until the child is old enough to make the decision themselves?

Mary - posted on 07/13/2012

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Well, a lot of these more devout people are already paying out-of-pocket to have it done by Mohels; they don't exactly make the preferred provider list of most insurance companies. A few of them are also docs, but even then, they cannot directly bill the insurance company if they are performing the service as an "officiant" in a family home or reception hall. Most insurance companies don't even do a partial reimbursement for these, so denying coverage for circs won't impact this group at all. (I looked it up - the current going rate that Mohels charge is $500.00 - $800.00).

I've lived my whole life in an area that is heavily Jewish, with a large subset of Orthodox Jews. I'm pretty pessimistic about the chances that this group can be persuaded through reason or education. They are a pretty stubborn group who already eschew a lot of societal norms, and are proud to do so. It's not so much that I'm advocating not trying, but I'd put the chances of success with this group, especially the Orthodox, at slim to none.

Krista - posted on 07/13/2012

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I am not saying that making it illegal won't result in "back alley circumcisions", as it were. Sadly, it will.

But as I mentioned, we can also use that argument with FGM. There are no doubt some families who perform it, in countries where it's illegal.

So is the answer to legalize it? To legitimize it? I can't get behind that.

I'm not saying that it should be made illegal right away. People aren't ready for that. I think that the first step is for insurers to stop covering it. If people have to pay out of pocket, I think that will drastically reduce the number of non-religious elective circs. So that'd be a good start.

From there? Education, education, education, and working heavily with religious leaders to see if a middle ground can be found. I've heard that some Jewish families will simply have a ritual "nick" of their son's foreskin. While not ideal, it's better than a full-blown circumcision, no?

I just can't accept that we should just sit back and say, "Well, it's their religion, so we shouldn't even try to do anything about it."

Mary - posted on 07/13/2012

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Krista, I'm not even remotely pro-circ (had Molly been a boy, she would have remained intact), but I disagree that making it illegal won't equate to people doing it in a less regulated, and possibly unsanitary manner. After all, when abortions were illegal, people still had them, and for some, the results were down right deadly.

This could be marginally less dangerous, since the Jewish population has trained Mohels in this practice for centuries, and quite frankly, the majority of them are as good, if not better, than a lot of the doctors that do them. The area I live in has a large Jewish population, and most of them choose to do it at home with a Mohel on the eighth day of life. Most practicing Jews that I have encountered both personally and professionally do not have it done in the hospital by physician. If circumcision were made illegal in my state, I doubt that rate of circumcision would drop in this population - they would just have it done quietly behind closed doors, and forego the big family celebration that currently goes along with it.

Chances are, they'd probably avoid taking that baby to the pediatrician's office for routine well-checks and vaccinations, unless they knew for a fact that their doc would be willing to ignore the obvious. Again, in my neck of the woods, finding such a doc who would do so might not be too hard, but for others, I think the possibility of the devout parent skipping out on those initial visits to avoid detection and prosecution is pretty significant - creating a second threat from making this procedure illegal.

User - posted on 07/13/2012

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Interestingly this case was only brought after medical complications, which are relatively rare. Should the question of medical risk be considered too?

Tabitha - posted on 07/13/2012

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I really think that could be a dangerous decision to make.People take their religious beliefs very seriously and many religions require their children to be circumcised. I do think this will force certain groups to take the "backstreet" with dire consequences.IMHO i think the only reason it should be done is for religious or medical purposes. Between you and your doctor a person will make that decision. The government needs to stay out of our church and home!

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