Circumcision bans have been proposed here in the U.S., but so far policy surrounding circumcision haven’t been mandated. In Germany however, things are now a little different. Recently, a German court in Cologne ruled that circumcision of baby boys should be considered unlawful, noting that the “fundamental right of the child to bodily integrity outweighed the fundamental rights of the parents.” Religious leaders are outraged of course, as are parents who support circumcision along with the right to make decisions for their baby. The court however is firm in their belief that circumcision at a very young age changes a baby or child’s body significantly, “irreparably and permanently” thus is not a decision anyone but the individual themselves should be making and the court notes that forced circumcision goes against that “child’s rights to choose his religious beliefs.”
Jewish leaders in particular, are furious about the new circumcision decision. Dieter Graumann, the central council’s president called the outlawing of circumcision “outrageous and insensitive,” and the New York Times reports that Graumann says of circumcision, “In every country in the world this religious right is respected.” This case came about after a four-year-old Muslim boy in Cologne suffered heavy bleeding a few days after a doctor had performed a circumcision. The doctor was charged with grievous bodily harm, but was acquitted both because he did have parental consent and cited religious freedom to perform such an operation. Up until now, male circumcision has been allowed in Germany, although there are standing laws protecting females in Germany from genital cutting. The New York Times points out that the decision won’t be enforceable in jurisdictions other than Cologne, but in reality, legal uncertainty and possible prosecution may lead doctors to decline performing circumcisions on baby boys.
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