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The New York Jewish Week



November 12, 2013


On Circumcision, Scalia Surprises


Longest-serving justice and interlocutors agree on most issues at YU conversation between former classmates.


A hero to many in the Orthodox community on matters relating to the separation of church and state, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s comments on circumcision at a Yeshiva University forum last Wednesday night may have come as an unpleasant surprise to those who think the justice’s opinions flow from his own religious beliefs.


How would he have ruled, he was asked by attorney Nathan Lewin, had a 2011 attempt to criminalize circumcision in San Francisco succeeded and eventually made its way to the high court?


“If the practice is something that society does not want, and it’s not intended to discriminate against Jews in particular, I think the law is perfectly valid,” he said to a crowd somewhat mystified by how incongruous the remark seemed in the context of Scalia’s other church-state comments.


Lewin, who has argued almost 30 cases before the Supreme Court, many on the subject of religious liberties, sat across from Scalia on the stage of YU’s Strauss Center for Torah and Western Thought to discuss their interpretations of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment; that clause states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”


Rabbi Dr. Meir Y. Soloveichik, the director of the Strauss Center and the spiritual leader of Congregation Shearith Israel in Manhattan, moderated. Rabbi Soloveichik began by asking each of the participants what he considered the original meaning of the Establishment Clause. The conservative Scalia reaffirmed his well-known position that the early definition of the Establishment Clause was vastly different than how it is often understood today. When first written, it meant that Congress would neither establish a religion itself, nor try to disestablish religions that were already established, said Scalia, the longest-serving justice on the court.


“It surely does not mean that God has to be driven out of the public forum,” the justice said.


Lewin agreed, remarking that the modern understanding of the Establishment Clause has been detrimental to the Jewish community, as states cannot fund even secular subjects taught at day schools. He noted that when he has argued similar cases, his opponents usually include Jewish organizations such as the American Jewish Congress, the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee.


“The Jewish community has taken this position over history, that we have to cleanse government or schools of any mention or association with religion,” he said. According to Lewin, Jews were initially concerned that the inclusion of religion in public institutions would result in proselytization. However, he said, “Time has proved that the theory of proselytization is no longer what we should be concerned with. What we should be concerned with today is assimilation.”


Scalia and Lewin touched upon several cases, including:


- Goldman v. Weinberger: Shortly before Scalia was appointed to the court in 1986, Lewin argued unsuccessfully that a Jewish Air Force officer be allowed to wear a yarmulke while in uniform.


- County of Allegheny v. ACLU: A 1989 case argued successfully by Lewin, in which the Supreme Court, including Scalia, ruled that Chabad Lubavitch had a right to keep a Menorah on public property.


- Board of Education of Kiryas Joel Village School District v. Grumet: A 1994 case in which Lewin argued for the creation of a school district based on the borders of a Satmar community to allow handicapped Satmar students to attend a secular school without students from radically different cultures. The court held that the creation of such a district was unconstitutional, with Scalia writing a scathing dissent.


Scalia and Lewin did not agree on the legality of a ban on circumcision, however. For most of the evening, the former Harvard Law classmates traded playful barbs. At one point, Lewin said, “I don’t mean to question whether Justice Scalia is sometimes inconsiderate, but that’s who he is.” At another, Lewin was talking about a case he had argued before the Supreme Court when Scalia broke in and said, “And you lost again, didn’t you?”


Shuli Karkowski, a graduate of Harvard Law in attendance, said she was impressed by Scalia’s honesty, especially considering that not all of his opinions were popular with the audience.


“Even when I don’t agree with Justice Scalia, I think he takes both a consistent and principled approach,” she said. “I’m surprised that he said how he would rule in the bris case. Most justices are disinclined to speak on any matter that could possibly come before the court.”


In fact, Scalia acknowledged that, at times, he can be more forthright than someone in his position ought to be. In the interest of putting his guest at ease, Soloveichik told the justice to feel free to say whatever he wanted.


“If you want to share a secret, just share it with a thousand Jews and you’ll be all set.”


Source: The New York Jewish Week






November 12, 2013


Norway to introduce new regulations on circumcision


(JTA) — Norway will promote new legislation to “regulate ritual circumcision,” the country’s health minister said.


Bent Hoie said the new legislation on non-medical circumcision of boys under 18 will be introduced before April 20, according to a report by the Norwegian daily Aftenposten.


“We will review submissions on the matter before we can decide what should be the government’s position. We aim to present a bill before Easter,” Hoie told Aftenposten last week. He did not say whether the regulations would introduce new restrictions.


His announcement follows renewed calls by Norway Children’s Ombudswoman Anne Lindboe to ban non-medical circumcision of minors without their consent, which she says violates their rights.


“This is not due to any lack of understanding of minorities or religious traditions, but because the procedure is irreversible, painful and risky,” Lindboe told Aftenposten.


The Center Party, which won 5.5 percent of the vote in Norway general elections earlier this year, is in favor of banning non-medical circumcision of underage boys. The country’s largest party, Labor, has not yet formulated an official stance but several of its lawmakers support a ban.


Ervin Kohn, president of the Jewish community in Oslo, told JTA that he considers the issue “an existential matter” for the Jewish community of about 700 members.


Each year, approximately 2,000 Muslims and seven Jewish newborns undergo non-medical circumcision in Norway, according to Aftenposten.


In France, meanwhile, President Francois Hollande strongly affirmed his support for the protection of Jewish rights to circumcision in an Oct. 30 letter to the Consistoire, which oversees religious services for the Jewish community.


“There is no question whether this practice in Judaism, and other religions, is performed in accordance with existing laws in France,” he wrote.


Source: Jewish Telegraphic Agency






October 2, 2013


European council passes anti-ritual circumcision resolution


(JTA) — A resolution that calls male ritual circumcision a “violation of the physical integrity of children” was passed overwhelmingly by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.


The council, a pan-European intergovernmental organization, debated and passed the resolution on Tuesday based on a report by the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development led by German rapporteur Marlene Rupperecht.


The resolution passed by a vote of 78 in favor and 13 against, with 15 abstentions. The resolution calls on states to “clearly define the medical, sanitary and other conditions to be ensured for practices such as the non-medically justified circumcision of young boys.”


It also calls on member states to “initiate a public debate, including intercultural and interreligious dialogue, aimed at reaching a large consensus on the rights of children to protection against violations of their physical integrity according to human rights standards” and to “adopt specific legal provisions to ensure that certain operations and practices will not be carried out before a child is old enough to be consulted.”


Practices covered by the resolution include female genital mutilation, the circumcision of young boys for religious reasons, early childhood medical interventions in the case of intersexual children, corporal punishment, and the submission to or coercion of children into piercings, tattoos or plastic surgery.


Large majorities rejected five amendments that sought to remove or alter references to the circumcision of boys. An amendment that removed a reference to the “religious rights of parents and families” was supported by a large majority of members.


“Although the adoption of this report is non-binding and does not represent any direct threat to milah, we are troubled at the readiness of the Parliamentary Assembly to dismiss the points made during the debate about religious freedom,” the Milah UK organization told JTA.


The ritual circumcision of boys younger than 18 has come under attack increasingly in Scandinavia and German-speaking European countries both by left-wing secularists and right-wingers who fear the influence of immigration from Muslim countries.


Source: Jewish Telegraphic Agency








October 1, 2013


Nordic children’s ombudsmen take historic step to protect children’s rights


Yesterday, during a meeting in Oslo, Nordic ombudsmen for children, Nordic paediatricians, and paediatric surgeons agreed a resolution urging their national governments to work for a ban on non-therapeutic circumcision of underage boys.


The children's ombudsmen from the five Nordic countries (Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, and Iceland), along with the Chair of the Danish Children's Council and the Children's spokesperson for Greenland passed a resolution to: "Let boys decide for themselves whether they want to be circumcised."


The ombudsmen concluded that: "Circumcision without a medical indication on a person unable to provide informed consent conflicts with basic principles of medical ethics." They found the procedure "to be in conflict with the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child, articles 12, and 24 (3) which say that children should have the right to express their own views and must be protected from traditional rituals that may be harmful to their health."


Dr Antony Lempert, a GP and spokesperson for the UK Secular Medical Forum (SMF), applauded this historic resolution and urged the UK and devolved Governments to work towards protecting all UK children at risk of forced genital cutting.


He said: "This important statement by the Nordic child protection experts is grounded in common sense. Children's basic rights to bodily integrity and to form their own beliefs should not be overridden because of their parents' religious or cultural practices."


Dr Lempert argued that, "with an increasing awareness of serious irreversible harm caused to boys and girls from forced genital cutting it is time for the genitals of all children to be protected from people with knives and strong religious or cultural beliefs. There can be no justification for healthy children to be forcibly cut. All children deserve society's protection from serious harm."


Source: National Secular Society





The Local - Germany



September 28, 2013


'Circumcision breaches human rights of the child'


There is no medical reason to circumcise little boys; the procedure is painful, irreversible and can cause complications, according to Sweden's children's ombudsman and representatives for several healthcare organizations.


"To circumcise a child without medical reasons and without the child's consent, runs contrary... to the child's human rights and the fundamental principles of medical ethics," they write in a debate article in the Dagens Nyheter daily on Saturday.


The ombudsman Fredrik Malmberg, together with representatives from the Swedish Society of Medicine (SLS), the Swedish Society of Health Professionals (Vårdförbundet), the Swedish Paediatric Society (BLF) and the Swedish Association of Pediatric Surgeons (SLF), argues that Swedish law requires that the child's will be taken into account wherever possible. Circumcision is a procedure which is typically carried out at a very young age and it is this issue of consent which is paramount, they argue.


"We consider circumcision of boys without the child's consent to be in contravention of article 12 of UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) which gives children the right to have an opinion in matters which concern them."


They furthermore argue for a change in Swedish legislation in order to meet the human rights of the child and medical ethics.


The issue has become topical in Sweden in recent weeks following the submission of a motion to parliament from the Sweden Democrats calling for an outright ban on the procedure.


Furthermore on Monday September 30th children's ombudsmen from across Scandinavia will meet together with prominent medical professionals in Oslo to discuss the issue.


The Ombudsman for Children in Sweden is a government agency which represents the interests and rights on the basis of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).


Source: The Local





The Local - Germany



September 26, 2013


Court: circumcision too risky for six-year-old


A German court has forbidden a woman from having her six-year old son circumcised because of a risk of psychological damage. The decision comes a year after a similar ruling sparked an international outcry.


Then a court in Cologne said religious circumcision of male infants was tantamount to grievous bodily harm, a criminal act subject to prosecution - prompting furore around the world. In response to the July 2012 ruling, German lawmakers passed a law clearly stating that under strict conditions, circumcision was legal.


But now a court in Hamm in North Rhine-Westphalia has said a woman could not get doctors to perform the religious rite on her six-year-old child because she had not taken into account the psychological damage it could cause him, newspaper the Westdeutsche Allgemeine newspaper reported.


The unnamed woman from Dortmund, who is German-born but of Kenyan descent, wanted to have her son circumcised before visiting Kenya, where it is normal practice for boys when they are very young babies.


More than 80 percent of the Kenyan adult male population is circumcised. The woman had worried her son would not be accepted as a real man by his relatives there unless he had the operation.


The court said the 31-year-old mother was not fit to make the decision about the operation because neither child nor mother were aware of the risks involved in the procedure - including psychological harm, the newspaper reported.


"In this case there are substantial grounds to suggest that the circumcision sought by the child's mother would damage the psychological well-being of the six-year-old," wrote the higher regional court in Hamm in a ruling from the end of August that was published on Wednesday.


Potential harm could result from the mother's intention not to be present at the operation, said the court and the fact that the child had already been christened.


Such "damage" was not necessary and should not be allowed, particularly as both mother and child lived in Germany and only travelled to Kenya very rarely, the court said.


The decision upholds an earlier ruling by the family court in Dortmund suggesting the local youth welfare office should have the final say on the matter.


Last December, German lawmakers passed a law stating circumcision was legal as long as the child's health was not put at risk, and that the practitioner carried out the rite in accordance with medical standards.


Source: The Local






September 24, 2013


Motion to ban non-medical circumcision introduced in Sweden


(JTA) — A motion to ban the non-medical circumcision of males younger than 18 was presented to the Swedish parliament.


Two lawmakers from the rightist Sweden Democrats party, noting that female genital mutilation is illegal in Sweden, submitted the motion to the Riksdag on Tuesday. A vote on the motion has not been set.


Bjorn Soder and Per Ramhorn wrote in the measure that “boys should have the same right to avoid both complications of reduced sensitivity in the genitals, painful erections, increased risk of kidney damage and psychological distress by permanent removal, and the tremendous violation of privacy that circumcision actually means.”


The motion proposes to scrap legislation from 2001 that says circumcision of newborns is permissible if it is performed by a “licensed professional.”


Jewish ritual circumcisers, or mohelim, in Sweden receive their licenses from the country’s health board, but a nurse or doctor must still be present when they perform the procedure.


The anti-immigration Sweden Democrats party was established in 1988 but only made it into parliament following unprecedented gains in the 2010 elections, when it garnered 5.7 percent of the votes, or 20 seats out of 349 in Sweden’s parliament. The opposition party is the sixth largest faction in the Riksdag.


Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, president of the European Conference of Rabbis, said the proposal “betrays a dangerous ignorance of what is involved in the practice of milah as compared with the abhorrent practice of Female Genital Mutilation.” The motion’s authors “seem to have overlooked the fact that if circumcision were to be banned, that would itself represent the most serious violation of human rights in recent memory,” he added in a statement.


Ritual circumcision of underage boys increasingly has come under attack in Scandinavia, both by left-wing secularists as well as right-wingers who fear the influence of immigration from Muslim countries.


The opposition follows a ruling last year by a German court in Cologne that ritual circumcision amounted to a criminal act. The ruling was overturned but triggered temporary bans in Austria and Switzerland.


Sweden has about 20,000 Jews and 500,000 Muslims, according to a U.S. State Department report from 2011.


Source: Jewish Telegraphic Agency






September 18, 2013


Danish coalition partner adopts anti-circumcision motion


(JTA) — A left-wing Danish political party is seeking to outlaw ritual circumcision in Denmark.


The Social Liberal Party, a small coalition partner of Denmark’s ruling Social Democrats party, adopted the anti-circumcision stance this week following an internal vote by delegates during a party congress in Nyborg, 75 miles west of Copenhagen, according to the news site


A large majority of hundreds of delegates from the party — Denmark’s sixth largest with 17 out of 179 seats in parliament — passed the motion to oppose all non-medical circumcision of underage boys, the website reported.


The ban was necessary “because we do not protect those who cannot protect themselves, namely children,” said Christian Holm Donatzky, a local politician for the party from Helsingor, a city located 25 miles north of Copenhagen.


The left-leaning Social Liberal Party is one of several anti-circumcision parties in Scandinavia, where the custom has come under attack from left-wing secularists as well as right-wingers who fear the influence of immigration from Muslim countries.


Last year, Norway’s Centre Party also announced it opposed circumcision as did Finland’s third-largest party, True Finns. The announcements last year followed a ruling by a German court in Cologne that ritual circumcision amounted to a criminal act. The ruling was overturned but triggered temporary bans in Austria and Switzerland.


Lene Rachel Andersen, a well-known Danish Jewish author and journalist, wrote an Op-Ed following the vote August 15, warning that a ban would mean the demise of Danish Jewry. “Within two to three years, religious Jews will move away move from Denmark.” This, she wrote in her Op-Ed for the website, will mean “the heart of religious life would disappear.”


In 2003, Denmark’s Children’s Ombudsman, a government body, classified circumcision as a children’s rights violation — a position shared by its counterpart organizations in Finland and Norway.


The World Jewish Congress estimates that there are about 6,400 Jews living in Denmark.


Source: Jewish Telegraphic Agency





The Telegraph



Young boys from the Xhosa tribe attend a traditional initiation school in Libode (Photo: AFP)


May 22, 2013


33 men 'die in South African circumcision ceremonies'


As many as 33 young men are now thought to have died over two weeks in one province of South Africa as they took part in traditional initiation ceremonies that included circumcision and extreme survival tests.


By Aislinn Laing, Johannsburg


Police have confirmed that they have opened murder investigations into all but one of the deaths in northern Mpumalanga province, which President Jacob Zuma described as a "massive and unnecessary loss of young life".


Tens of thousands of young South Africans take part in traditional initiation ceremonies each year where circumcision is normally performed by traditional healers.


Although fatalities during the winter ceremony season are not uncommon, the high toll has prompted calls for a public inquiry into the policing of the traditional schools and their care of initiates.


Just over half of South African men undergo circumcision, which has been promoted by government as key in the fight against HIV/Aids.


Around half of those do so aged 10 to 15 as part of traditional initiation ceremonies, which generally last around three weeks and former president Nelson Mandela described in his autobiography as "a kind of spiritual preparation for the trials of manhood."


What exactly goes on during the ceremonies is shrouded in mystery, but initiates are often painted with red clay and spend long periods of living in the bush, often with little or no clothes. Some are given herbal concoctions to drink.


In the past, deaths during initiation have been caused by botched circumcisions, infection and loss of blood, or by dehydration and hypothermia.


The highest previous death toll from initiations in Mpumalanga province was reported to be eight.


Lt Col Leonard Hlathi, a police spokesman, said autopsies were still being conducted on the Mpumalanga fatalities but added that the one initiate for whom an inquest had been opened had complained of stomach pains and vomiting.


Despite suggestions that the initiates might have died at rogue schools set up by unlicensed operators seeking to make money, he said that they all occurred at officially-recognised sites where doctors were normally present.


He confirmed that police had never previously investigated initiates' deaths, but added: "We are talking about lives here that we have lost in a space of two weeks. It's too many."


Dr Wilson Makgalancheche, head of the country's National House of Traditional Leaders, said some schools failed to conduct health checks on initiates when they arrived, and some brought along younger siblings who were not ready to take part.


He said there was no question of initiations being banned. "It's a cultural practice embedded in people's lives and they feel that without these practices, they might cease to exist," he said. "The important thing is for them to be better policed and updated to fit with modern life."


Mr Zuma, a Zulu traditionalist who has spoken openly about his own circumcision for health reasons, called for "swift justice" for those responsible for the deaths.


"It cannot be acceptable that every time young men reach this crucial time in their development, their lives are culled in the most painful of ways, in the care of circumcision schools," he said.


© Copyright of Telegraph Media Group Limited 2013


Source: The Telegraph






April 4, 2013


N.Y. newborn contracts herpes from circumcision rite


(JTA) -- The parents of a Jewish newborn who reportedly contracted neonatal herpes following a controversial circumcision rite did not sign the required consent form.


According to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the newborn is the second in three months to contract the virus due to metzitzah b'peh, in which the circumciser uses his mouth to draw blood from the baby's penis.


The baby's parents did not sign the form advising that "direct oral suction should not be performed" because of the risk of contracting herpes, a recently required New York City health board regulation, and they have refused to identify the mohel, or ritual circumciser, who apparently is carrying the virus, The Forward reported.


At least 11 boys contracted herpes from the practice between 2004 and 2011, according to New York City health officials. Two died from the disease and two others suffered brain damage, the officials said.


Last September, the board of health voted 9-0 to require mohels to obtain the signed consent forms. Several months earlier, the city had struck an agreement with city hospitals to distribute pamphlets about the ritual's dangers to the mothers of newborns.


Using oral suction to take blood from the area of the circumcision wound is common in some of New York's haredi Orthodox communities.


Source: Jewish Telegraphic Agency





Fox News


January 11, 2013


Judge won't block New York City circumcision law


A Manhattan federal judge refused to block a New York City regulation requiring people who perform circumcisions and use their mouths to draw away blood from the wound on a baby's genitals to first obtain written consent from the parents.


U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald on Thursday refused to issue a preliminary injunction against the change to the city's health code, which some members of the city's Orthodox Jewish communities called an unwarranted government intrusion on religious freedom.


In September, the New York City Board of Health voted to require mohels, who perform circumcisions, to obtain advance consent that tells parents about the risk of a potentially fatal herpes infection linked to the ritual of metzitzah b'peh, or MBP, involving direct oral suction of the penis.


Enforcement of the regulation was put on hold until Buchwald could rule on the request by the Central Rabbinical Congress of the USA and Canada, the International Bris Association and some rabbis for a preliminary injunction.


In court papers filed in October, they said the regulation improperly singled out an exclusively religious ritual, and violated the free speech and free exercise protections within the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.


But in a 93-page decision, Buchwald refused to halt enforcement of the regulation, and said the plaintiffs' claims were likely to be found without merit.


"There is ample medical evidence that direct oral suction places infants at a serious risk of herpes infection, as well as evidence that parents are sometimes unaware in advance of a circumcision that MBP will occur, and the regulation plainly addresses these legitimate societal concerns," Buchwald wrote.


"As enacted, the regulation does no more than ensure that parents can make an informed decision" whether to consent, she added.


Shay Dvoretzky, a partner at Jones Day representing the plaintiffs, was not immediately available for comment.


The city welcomed the decision. "Informing parents about the grave risks associated with this procedure is critical to safeguarding infants' health," Michelle Goldberg-Cahn, a senior lawyer for the city, said in a statement.


New York City said it plans to begin enforcing the consent requirement even if litigation continues.


City health officials on Thursday said at least 11 infant boys have in the last several years contracted a potentially fatal form of herpes following circumcision with direct oral suction, and that two of the boys died.


Opponents of the regulation have said the health department had not proven a higher incidence of neonatal herpes among boys who had received direct oral suction.


The case is Central Rabbinical Congress of the USA and Canada et al v. New York City Department of Health & Mental Hygiene et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 12-07590.


Source: Fox News






November 14, 2012


German lawmakers propose barring circumcision before age 14


BERLIN (JTA) -- Some 50 lawmakers in Germany have signed on to a proposal that would bar ritual circumcision for boys under the age of 14.


The lawmakers -- from the left-wing Social Democratic, Left and Greens parties -- are hoping to preempt a bill that would allow Jewish and Muslim parents to choose ritual circumcision for an infant son under strict regulations including medical training for the circumciser and the use of anesthesia. The bill allowing ritual circumcision, which is awaiting parliamentary approval, was submitted last month.


Under the new proposal, the non-medical circumcision of infants would be prohibited and the procedure would have to be carried out by a trained urologist or pediatric surgeon, according to German news reports. The legislators reportedly insist that the child himself should be able to decide whether or not to allow "such a serious interference with his bodily integrity."


The proposal was submitted to the parliament by three lawmakers. The new attempt is expected to meet vigorous opposition in the Bundestag.


The current campaign against ritual circumcision in Germany, which is led by a cadre of activists and boosted by some politicians on the left, picked up steam last May after a Cologne District Court ruled that the circumcision of a minor was criminal assault. The ruling came to light in the general public in June. In response, Jewish and Muslim leaders demanded a legal response that would protect their religious freedom.


Though the bill submitted in October introduces new restrictions on a ritual practiced without interruption for centuries in Germany, Jewish and Muslim groups have praised it as a way to protect their religious freedom against increasing onslaughts by opponents of circumcision. The new measure would undermine that security.


Source: Jewish Telegraphic Agency





Courthouse News Service


November 9, 2012


Circumcision Goes Horribly Wrong




EDINBURG, Texas (CN) - A doctor botched a circumcision of a 4-year-old boy so badly that the boy pleaded to "just cut it off and (he) can be a girl," the parents claim in court.


Rafael and Vanessa Deleon sued Dr. Jennifer J. Garza, of McAllen, in Hidalgo County Court. They claim they learned from specialists that Garza over-cauterized the penis to try to stop the bleeding, damaging their son's urethra and requiring reconstructive surgery to close the holes.


But after the 90-minute surgery, the Deleons claim Garza told them, "'the circumcision was successful.' She also told them that 'there was a little bleeding, but that she and her staff were able to stop it,'" according to the complaint.


Then a nurse appeared and told Garza that the boy "still had a lot of bleeding and that the bleeding did not appear to be stopping," the complaint states. Garza told that that "their son 'needed to go back into surgery in order to find out what was happening and to stop the bleeding,'" the Deleons say. They were then given a consent form, but "the consent papers were for a different patient," according to the complaint.


It continues: "After taking the plaintiff into the operating room for a second time, the defendant came out and told Ethan's parents that she had managed to stop the bleeding using cauterization around the penis area where she thought the bleeding was coming from. The defendant then had the plaintiff remain overnight at the hospital. During the course of that night, hospital staff had to change the plaintiff's gauze around his penis multiple times. Plaintiff's parents also noticed that the plaintiff oozed blood every time he urinated."


The next day, after seeing lab results, Garza told them that "'Ethan's penis was going to look beat up for the next couple of weeks, but that as the weeks go by it would look normal again,'" according to the complaint.


But that didn't happen, the family says: "The days following the surgery, the plaintiff's parents had to change the plaintiff's gauze repeatedly because he kept bleeding so much. During this time, the plaintiff's parents were shocked when they saw the plaintiff urinate from more than one hole in his penis. It appeared that Ethan had two streams of urine. After seeing this, the plaintiff's family decided to visit Doctor Segundo Lizardo, Ethan's pediatrician, the same doctor who referred them to Dr. Garza."


The only defendant in the complaint is Dr. Garza and her office.


The family consulted a third doctor, Catarina Posada, who "could not explain to the family why the plaintiff was urinating from two holes in his penis, but she however prescribed the plaintiff some medication," according to the complaint.


It continues: "In the coming days, the plaintiff screams and cries every time he has to urinate. The plaintiff is also in tremendous pain. The plaintiff refuses to drink anything because he does not want to urinate. The plaintiff also becomes very upset with his parents. He begins to blame them for his pain and predicament. The plaintiff goes so far as to say that he is a girl now because he has to urinate sitting down. The plaintiff also asks his parents 'to just cut it off, and he can be a girl.' The plaintiff's parents also have to change the plaintiff's sheets nightly because the sheets become stained with blood."


A week after the circumcision, the Deleons took their son, still bleeding and in pain, to the emergency room at Rio Grande Regional Hospital where Dr. Christopher Bristow told them "that the plaintiff's penis looked over cauterized."


That led to a visit with a pediatric urologist, and more lab tests.


Dr. Lizardo then prescribed him morphine so he could sleep, the family says.


"On or about April 3, 2011, at 2:30 a.m., the plaintiff went to urinate and his parents noticed that a stream of blood was running down his leg. The plaintiff's parents call 911. The ambulance takes the plaintiff to the Knapp Medical Center Emergency room. There Dr. Jorge Martinez sees the plaintiff and gets Dr. Lizardo to show up to the emergency room. According to the plaintiff's parents, when they questioned Dr. Lizardo on why this was happening to their son, Dr. Lizardo told them something had to have gone wrong during the circumcision surgery for this to be happening to Ethan," the complaint states.


Five days later, a pediatric urologist told them "that Ethan's urethra is damaged. He tells the plaintiff's family that the circumcision surgery created fistulas - holes in Ethan's penis. He tells them that the plaintiff will need reconstructive surgery to repair the fistulas," the complaint states.


"On or about September 23, 2011, the plaintiff underwent reconstructive surgery to close the fistulas (holes) on his penis. The doctor tells the plaintiff's family that he closed the holes; however sadly, he indicated that the plaintiff may need more surgeries in the future," the complaint says. (Parentheses in complaint.)


The family seeks punitive damages for medical negligence, deceptive trade, breach of warranty and misrepresentation.


They are represented by Pamela S. Alexander and Efrain Molina Jr. of Edinburg.


Source: Courthouse News Service






October 11, 2012


Suit Is Filed Over Move to Regulate Circumcision




Several Jewish groups filed a lawsuit on Thursday seeking to prevent New York City from enforcing a rule on circumcisions, arguing that the regulation would violate religious freedoms.


The city Board of Health passed a regulation in September that required written parental consent before a ritual circumcision could be done. In the procedure, common among ultra-Orthodox Jews, the person performing the circumcision uses his mouth to remove blood from the incision.


The oral contact, known in Hebrew as metzitzah b’peh, is considered dangerous by public health officials, because of the possibility of spreading diseases, specifically herpes. Failure to comply with the regulation could result in warnings and fines.


From 2000 to 2011, 11 babies contracted herpes, most likely as a result of the practice, and two of them died, according to the city’s health department. This spring, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also declared that the procedure created a risk for transmission of herpes and other pathogens, and was “not safe.”


In the lawsuit, filed in Federal District Court in Manhattan, several rabbis and Jewish organizations — including Agudath Israel of America and the International Bris Association — argue that the practice has been used safely for thousands of years among Jews and that the regulations are unconstitutional.


“Not only is the Department of Health wrong about metzitzah b’peh, it is trying to enforce its erroneous opinions on the people of New York City,” said Hank Sheinkopf, a spokesman for the groups suing the city. “By essentially starting a public intimidation campaign that forces private citizens to spread the government’s beliefs, they are shaking the core of our democracy. We believe the courts will stop this overzealous government overreach and keep them out of our speech and religion.”


Dr. Thomas A. Farley, commissioner of the city health department, issued a statement on Thursday citing the danger posed by the procedures and arguing that the measures were necessary for public safety.


“The city’s highest obligation is to protect its children,” he said in the statement. “The health department’s written consent requirement is lawful, appropriate and necessary.”


Source: The New York Times






October 2, 2012


Finnish party plans new bill to ban circumcision


(JTA) – Finland's third largest party, True Finns, has demanded a ban on the ritual circumcision of minors.


In a debate held Sept. 26 at the Finnish parliament in Helsinki, Vesa-Matti Saarakkala, a lawmaker for True Finns, reiterated his calls in March to outlaw the practice in Finland.


Saarakkala, 28, said he would submit a bill proposing to criminalize ritual circumcision in boys younger than 15 years of age, according to the online edition of Yleisradio, Finland's national public broadcasting company.


"The Finnish constitution guarantees everyone the right to personal integrity," Saarakkala is quoted as saying. Saarakkala, a critic of what he called perceived integration problems among immigrants, also pointed out that female circumcision "is already considered assault" in Finland. The fact that circumcision in males is legal in Finland, he said, constitutes legal discrimination.


With 39 seats out of 200 in the lower house, the socialist-conservative True Finns is Finland's largest opposition party.


Jouko Jaaskelainen, a lawmaker for the Christian Democrats, said in parliament that circumcision was a minor procedure and that research showed it was helpful in preventing diseases.


On Sept. 30, an international conference of critics of ritual circumcision opened in Helsinki.


Gideon Bolotowsky of the Central Council of Jewish Communities in Finland told JTA that he did not foresee a ban on circumcision in Finland in the near future.


"Those trying to ban circumcision are hard-pressed to present scientific evidence that circumcision is harmful," he said.


Bolotowsky added that the critics of circumcision in children "have had the rug pulled from under their feet" because of the publication in August of a new research by the American Academy of Pediatrics suggesting that the procedure may protect heterosexual men against HIV and that the health benefits outweighed the risks connected to the procedure.


Source: Jewish Telegraphic Agency





The Jewish Daily Forward


September 13, 2012


N.Y. Board Orders Forms for Circumcision Rite


Health Officials Mandate Parental Consent for Metzitzah B'Peh


By Seth Berkman


The New York City board of health has voted unanimously to require parents to sign a consent form before allowing a mohel to perform metztizah b’peh, direct oral-genital suction during circumcision.


The vote was 9-0 to require parental consent for direct oral suction, a practice employed only by ultra-Orthodox mohels that can lead to transmission of a strain of herpes to which infants are especially vulnerable. Though transmission rates are believed to be low, if infected, babies can suffer brain damage or even death.


“We’re not banning the procedure, we’re not regulating how circumcisions are performed,” Jay K. Varma, deputy commissioner for disease control for the health department said after the meeting. “We’re simply requiring that people understand there is a risk, and if people want their baby to be circumcised, they have to understand that this procedure might potentially transmit an infection that is both serious as well as life threatening.”


There are no mandatory penalties imposed if the waivers are not signed. But the health commission may impose penalties at its own discretion. Varma said the department would respond to public complaints and investigate the claims, and that repercussions could range from a phone call or a formal warning letter, to fines of up to $2,000 for each violation.


Despite the unanimous approval, during the meeting board members, who are appointed by the mayor, voiced their concerns about the forms and the potential of limiting religious freedom. Board member Sandro Galea referred to the waivers as a “tricky issue,” and Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said the department had worked hard to protect infants and respect religious traditions at the same time. He also took note of calls from the Orthodox Jewish community to delay the vote, but said that would be inappropriate and essentially doing nothing on the matter. Farley did say that he hoped to continue dialogue with critics past today.


Three protestors gathered outside of the hearing at the Department of Health building in Long Island City to denounce the decision. Rabbi William Handler, leader of Traditional Bris Milah, a self-proclaimed group formed to “protect Jewish ritual circumcision,” provided orange flyers that accused Mayor Bloomberg and Farley of instigating “Blood Libel.”


“The puppets all danced to the tune of the puppet master,” said Handler, referring to the health board and the mayor. “What this is, is the first step in completely taking away traditional bris milah from the Jewish people in New York City.” 


Source: The Jewish Daily Forward





CBS News


August 27, 2012


Pediatrics group says circumcision's benefits outweigh risks amid U.S. decline in procedure


By Ryan Jaslow


(CBS News) The health benefits from male circumcision outweigh the risks, says the American Academy of Pediatrics in its latest guidelines on the controversial procedure published Monday.


In its first policy statement on the subject since 1999, which was later reaffirmed in 2005, the academy stops short of recommending routine circumcision for males, but adds that based on the current evidence, insurers should cover its costs.


The group's previous stance said the procedure can prevent bladder infections and sexually transmitted diseases like HIV/AIDS, but also carried potential downsides like reduced sensation and infection.


"In 1999, there was some data suggesting that there were some small medical benefits to circumcision but, at the time, there was not a compelling medical reason to recommend circumcision. So the previous policy didn't argue for or against circumcision," Dr. Douglas S. Diekema, a member of the circumcision task force behind the new statement, told AAP News. "However, now there is much stronger evidence about protective medical benefits associated with circumcision, so the tone of this policy statement has changed."


For the new policy statement, researchers formed a task force in 2007 to review evidence from 1,000 studies that took place between 1995 and 2010. They found that the procedure had preventive benefits, including a major risk reduction for male urinary tract infections - especially during the first year of life - and a lower risk of cancer, and heterosexual acquisition of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. Specifically, risk for herpes was 28 to 34 percent lower for circumcised men and risk for HPV was reduced by 30 to 40 percent.


The new policy is published in the Aug. 27 issue of the academy's journal, Pediatrics.


The task force members also said the procedure is safe when performed by trained professionals in a sterile environment, and complications are rare and much lower for newborns - less than 1 percent - compared with adult males who get the procedure.


However the group said the health benefits are not great enough to recommend routine circumcision.


"Ultimately, this is a decision that parents will have to make," Dr. Susan Blank, chair of the task force that authored the policy statement and corresponding technical report, said in a written statement. "Parents are entitled to medically accurate and non-biased information about circumcision, and they should weigh this medical information in the context of their own religious, ethical and cultural beliefs.


Based on current rates, it appears an increasing number of parents are opting to skip the procedure. A recent analysis from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found the U.S. circumcision rate fell from about 63 percent of newborn boys in 1999 to 55 percent in 2010. In the 1980s, the U.S. circumcision rate was about 79 percent of newborn boys.


A study in last week's Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine found the 20-year decline may have already contributed to about $2 billion in additional medical costs, for care related to treating urinary tract infections and sexually transmitted diseases throughout a male's lifetime. The researchers say if the trend continues to where only 10 percent of U.S. males are circumcised - rates similar to Europe - the country could face about $4.4 billion in health care costs - an added $407 per man.


That's in part because 18 states have already abolished Medicaid coverage for male circumcision. In the new policy statement, the American Academy of Pediatrics says the procedure's benefits warrant third-party payment by insurers should parents opt for the procedure for their kids.


"It's a good idea to have this conversation during pregnancy, and to learn whether your insurance will cover the procedure, so you have time to make the decision," said Dr. Blank.


Psychologist Ronald Goldman, director of an anti-circumcision group, the Circumcision Resource Center, told the Associated Press that studies show circumcision causes loss of sexual satisfaction -- a claim the academy said is not supported by the research it reviewed -- and can be psychologically harming. Goldman says medical studies showing benefits are flawed and that the academy's new position is "out of step" with international opinion on male circumcision.


Controversy over circumcision has ramped up in recent years, highlighted in the U.S. last year when a male circumcision ban almost made the November ballot in San Francisco. A judge eventually ruled such a decision should be a state matter, rather than decided by a city election.


In Cologne, Germany, a court ruled this July that circumcision went against the "fundamental right of the child to bodily integrity," and should be decided by the child himself once he gets older. The German government is currently working with the German Medical Association to clarify the ruling to ensure religious freedoms.


Source: CBS News






August 26, 2012


Denmark to probe whether circumcision violates health code


(JTA) – Denmark has commissioned an investigation into whether non-medical circumcision procedures violate its health code.


“We will examine the public health recommendations followed in this area,” Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt told the Copenhagen-based Politiken daily on Saturday.


Politiken reported that the Danish government has commissioned a study on this question. Last month the paper published an expose that said the National Board of Health did not monitor the conditions under which circumcision takes place.


Non-medical circumcision of minors has been the subject of a heated debate in Denmark over the past few months. Several politicians reportedly have called for a ban on the practice, prompting angry reactions from Jews and Muslims.


Venstre, Denmark’s largest party, will decide whether to seek a ban on such circumcisions based on the results of the study, a party spokesperson told JTA.


The chief rabbi of Denmark, Bent Lexner, told Politiken that he did not think the launching of the investigation reflected distrust on the government’s part. He said the government was welcome to carry out its investigation.


Lexner added that a doctor is always present during a circumcision, which under the Jewish rite is carried out by a mohel, or ritual circumciser.


"Our register goes back 250 years and we can document every single circumcision," the rabbi told Politiken. "A journal is also kept in connection with the circumcision itself. The doctor who is present keeps a record of what happens."


Denmark, a country of 5.5 million, has a Muslim minority of 210,000 and some 8,500 Jews.


Finn Schwarz, the president of the Jewish Congregation in Copenhagen, told JTA that the current debate about circumcision is connected to popular discontent with the level of integration of Muslim immigrants.


Source: Jewish Telegraphic Agency





The Jewish


August 21, 2012


Rabbi Charged with Illegal Circumcision in Germany


Criminal assault charges have been filed against the rabbi of the Jewish community in oberfränkischen Hof, Rabbi David Goldberg, for circumcision for religious reasons. Chief prosecutor Gerhard Schmitt confirmed that the complaint was filed by a doctor from Hessen, which is under the jurisdiction of the Cologne Regional Court, which decided a while ago that non-medical circumcision was a criminal offense.


According to the "Judische Allgemeine," Rabbi Goldberg, who is also a mohel, or religious circumciser, was informed by journalists about the lawsuit.


Cologne Rabbi Yaron Engelmayer of the Orthodox Rabbinical Conference declared: "I'm shocked."


It was the first time that a rabbi has been charged with a criminal violation in the Federal Republic of Germany because he performed a religious ritual.


Maram Stern, vice president of the World Jewish Congress, said there was an urgent need to create legal certainty about this matter. "We hope that the prosecutor will show sensitivity regarding this issue and will not initiate an investigation against the mohel."


Source: Jewish Press




The Sydney Morning Herald


August 21, 2012


Tasmania moves a step closer to circumcision ban


A trail-blazing legal ban on the circumcision of most baby boys is a step closer in Tasmania.


The Tasmanian Law Reform Institute today recommended the state impose a general prohibition on the circumcision of "incapable minors," except for well-established religious or ethnic reasons.


In a benchmark 101-page report, the institute also calls for legislation to clarify the legality of circumcisions done at the request of adults and "capable minors".


The institute's director, Kate Warner, said it was unclear whether non-therapeutic infant male circumcision was actually lawful. “In the interests of certainty, the institute recommends that the law be clarified,” Professor Warner said.


Circumcision is a permanent genital modification involving at least a partial excision of the male foreskin, according to the institute.


The report said there was rarely, if ever, a medical reason for the circumcision of a newborn boy.


Yet more than 19,000 Medicare claims were lodged nationally in 2010 for circumcisions on boys under six months of age. The statistics suggest about 13 per cent of newborn Australian boys are circumcised annually.


"Non-therapeutic circumcision is performed for a variety of reasons, including socio-cultural, religious, aesthetic and prophylactic reasons," it said.


Costs of the procedure included significant pain, and a potential reduction in sexual pleasure.


"Trauma from circumcision in childhood can also have a long lasting and significant effect on a person's mental health," the report said.


Benefits could include its cultural significance, particularly in Muslim and Jewish communities, and some reduced exposure to infectious disease.


But the report said the world's leading health policy organisations cautioned against attributing too much significance to circumcision's prophylactic effect for those who live in the developed world.


"No authoritative health policy maker in any jurisdiction with a frequency of relevant health conditions as low as that in Australia recommends circumcision as an individual or public health measure."


The report said the community was split over the merits of circumcising baby boys, but the institute concluded that for reasons of rational reform it should only be legal in the case of "widely and well-received" reasons.


"The law ought to condemn the waning tradition of circumcising incapable boys for secular non-ethnicity related social reasons."


A spokesman for the Attorney-General, Brian Wightman, said the state government was considering its response to the report.


Source: The Sydney Morning Herald






August 10, 2012


Swiss hospital lifts ban on circumcision


(JTA) – A Swiss hospital which briefly banned circumcision announced that it would now allow the procedure.


An announcement by University Children’s Hospital Zurich said on Friday that a three-week moratorium, now ended, was needed to assess the practice’s legal implications.


The hospital’s board “decided future circumcisions would be examined on a case by case basis, subject to consideration for children’s welfare.” If deemed permissible, both parents would have to give their written consent to the procedure.


The president of the Swiss Federation of Jewish Communities, Dr. Herbert Winter, told JTA he was “satisfied” with the lifting of a ban on circumcision. “It is positive that the hospital has also realized that circumcision does not conflict with Swiss law or jurisprudence -- as the Jewish community has often maintained.” Winter also said that the Jewish values are in line with the hospital’s care for children’s welfare.


According to Winter, University Children’s Hospital Zurich is the only institution in the country that had announced a ban on the ritual.


Jewish circumcisions are usually performed by mohalim, or ritual circumcisors, and “only very exceptionally do they occur in hospitals,” he added.


The hospital’s initial ban followed a ruling in June by a court in Cologne, Germany, which said that circumcision was tantamount to grievous bodily harm.


The governor of Vorarlberg province in Austria also has ordered state-run hospitals to stop circumcisions except for health reasons “until the legal situation is clarified.”


Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, president of the Conference of European Rabbis, said he wished to congratulate the Swiss Jewish community on the lifting of the ban.


“We are facing two parallel campaigns: To ban circumcision and to ban shechitah,” he told JTA, referring to the procedure for kosher slaughtering of animals. “Both sometimes display certain anti-Semitic overtones. Keeping shechitah permissible is crucially important. However, circumcision is existential; without it there can be no Jewish community.”


Source: Jewish Telegraphic Agency






August 10, 2012


Bipartisan group expresses ‘deep concern’ over German circumcision ban


WASHINGTON (JTA) – A bipartisan group of 20 Congressmen sent a letter to the German government expressing “deep concern” over a recent German court decision to effectively ban circumcision on young boys.


Howard Berman (D-Calif.), Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), authored the letter, which was addressed to Peter Ammon, the German ambassador to the United States.


The District Court of Cologne court recently ruled that the right of a child to be protected from bodily harm took precedence over the interests of the parents or religious freedom. Accordingly, the court said, the circumcision of a minor for non-medical reasons could be considered a criminal act.


The letter by the congressmen called the June 26 court decision “an affront to religious freedom.”


The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations, which represents about 1,000 congregations, praised the letter. Circumcision, it wrote in a press release, is “a fundamental ritual and sacred rite of passage for both the Jewish and Muslim communities. Throughout history, the prohibition of Brit Milah has been tantamount to rejection of the Jewish community’s existence.”


The letter to the ambassador also “applauded the strong opposition voiced by Chancellor Angela Merkel and Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle” and called on them to pass legislation that would safeguard religious freedom.


“Europe has experienced a troubling uptick in measures that violate religious freedom by undermining core religious tenets, such as the Dutch initiative to ban ritual slaughter and this new effort in Germany to outlaw ritual circumcision,” Waxman said in a press release. “We must ensure that Germany follows through on its commitment to resolve this controversy.”


Berman added in the release, “A not so veiled assault on tenets central to religious expression is underway in Europe's courts and legislatures. We must let it be known to our friends in a clear and unequivocal voice that such measures are harmful assaults on religious freedom and should not continue.”


Source: Jewish Telegraphic Agency






August 6, 2012


Norwegian official: Jews, Muslims should replace circumcision with ‘symbolic’ ritual


THE HAGUE (JTA) -- Norway’s ombudsman for children's rights has proposed that Jews and Muslim replace male circumcision with a symbolic, nonsurgical ritual.


Dr. Anne Lindboe told the newspaper Vart Land last month that circumcision in boys was a violation of a person’s right to decide over his own body.


“Muslim and Jewish children are entitled to the same protection as all other children,“ she said, adding that the practice caused unnecessary pain and was medically unbeneficial.


Lindboe, a pediatrician, was appointed ombudsman in June. Her predecessor, Reidar Hjermann, proposed setting 15 as the minimum age for circumcision. According to Jewish religious law, Jewish babies must be circumcised when they are eight days old.


The children’s ombudsman is an independent governmental institution entrusted with safeguarding the rights of minors.


Ervin Kohn, president of the Jewish Community of Oslo, said that Norwegian Jews “will not be able to live in a society where circumcision is forbidden.” He noted that the mandate of Norway’s children’s ombudsman did not extend to devising Jewish rituals. Norway has a Jewish community of about 700.


In June, a spokesperson for Norway’s Centre Party, which has 11 out of 169 seats in parliament, proposed a ban on circumcising babies.


Source: Jewish Telegraphic Agency








Boys in traditional attire attend a ceremony a day

before their circumcision ritual at Eyup Sultan square in Istanbul


August 1, 2012


Austria OKs circumcisions after multifaith appeal


By Michael Shields


Doctors in Austria’s westernmost province have been cleared to resume circumcisions after the Justice Ministry reassured them that they can perform the religious practice without risking criminal charges, officials said.


Spooked by a regional court ruling in neighbouring Germany that the practice supported by Muslims and Jews amounted to physical abuse, the governor of Austria’s Vorarlberg province last week advised doctors to suspend it, triggering a heated debate.


Another state governor came out in favour of a national ban.


Austria’s Catholic, Protestant, Jewish and Muslim leaders united in defence of circumcision on Friday, condemning calls to limit the practice as an attack on religion and demanding that the government clarify its legality.


A letter from Justice Minister Beatrix Karl giving the legal all clear has now helped assuage concerns, a spokesman for Vorarlberg Governor Markus Wallner said.


“We only wanted to get legal certainty for doctors so they can be clear whether they face legal consequences if they perform circumcisions for religious reasons,” he said.


Doctors still have to decide for themselves whether to perform such voluntary operations, which are not covered by the public health system, he added.


A spokesman for Karl said the minister had simply put in writing to Vorarlberg state officials what she and her legal experts have said in public for days.


Austria is home to about half a million Muslims, most of whom are migrant workers from Turkey, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and about 9,000 Jews, down from about 200,000 before the annexation of Austria by Nazi Germany in 1938.


Source: Reuters







July 24, 2012


Austrian province suspends circumcisions amid row


By Michael Shields


An Austrian province has told state-run hospitals to stop performing circumcisions on boys, wading into a religiously-charged debate ignited after a regional court in neighboring Germany banned the procedure as physical abuse.


The governor of Vorarlberg province said he had taken the decision to stop circumcisions until such time as Austria could formulate a uniform approach to a practice that is supported both by Muslims and Jews.


"This is a subject that has to be regulated country-wide," a spokesman for Governor Markus Wallner said, confirming media reports that he had advised hospitals in the western province to suspend circumcisions carried out for religious reasons.


Austrian broadcaster ORF said such operations were rare in Vorarlberg.


Germany's lower house of parliament last week passed a resolution protecting the religious circumcision of infant boys after a Cologne court ban outraged Muslims and Jews, sparking an emotional debate that has spilled into neighboring Austria.


Source: Reuters





The Algemeiner



July 23, 2012


Swiss Hospitals Follow German Ban on Circumcision


Two hospitals in Switzerland have suspended the practice of non-medical circumcision within their walls. The move comes just weeks after a German court in Cologne ruled that parents cannot order circumcisions on their children because it constitutes bodily harm.


Swiss Local News reported Thursday that the Zurich University Children’s Hospital has temporarily halted the practice of non-medical circumcision until its legality can be determined. “We are in the process of evaluating the legal and ethical stance in Switzerland,” Marco Stuecheli, spokesman for the hospital, told AFP last week. Following suit, St. Gallen’s teaching hospital in northern Switzerland said over the weekend that they are considering a moratorium on circumcision, with a senior hospital official pledging a final decision by summer’s end, reported Beobachter magazine.


It is unlikely that the hospitals’ decisions will have strong repercussions on the practice in Swiss Jewish or Muslim communities, because circumcisions are often practiced outside of medical facilities, a fact that accounts for the Zurich Children’s Hospital low average of only one or two circumcisions per month. Instead, Jewish parents circumcise in religious ceremonies staged in synagogues, with the procedure carried out by community specialists called “mohels” in Jewish tradition. In Switzerland, the prerogative to practice circumcision belongs to each individual hospital, according to the Swiss Society for Pediatric Surgery.


In Germany, the controversial ban may be overturned, following outrage from Jewish and Muslim organizations which prompted vehement responses from German lawmakers, notably German Chancellor Angela Merkel who said the ban risks making Germany a “laughing stock.” Germany’s lower house of parliament also passed a ruling by an overwhelming majority, according to Reuters, to protect circumcision in defiance of the Cologne district court’s decision.


Source: The Algemeiner





The Local - Germany


June 26, 2012


Religious circumcisions are crimes says court


Religious circumcisions are bodily harm and thus a crime, a German court ruled this week, in what was dubbed a precedent-setting decision.


Non-medical circumcision is a "serious and irreversible interference in the integrity of the human body,” the Cologne district court ruled.


This criminalises religious circumcisions performed by Jews and Muslims, the Financial Times Deutschland newspaper said on Tuesday. It says circumcision should be considered a crime of bodily harm.


Thousands of very young boys are circumcised in Germany each year, mainly for religious reasons.


In the United States most boys are circumcised shortly after birth - regardless of their religion, though the practice has declined in recent years and anti-circumcision protest groups have sprung up.


German doctors performing circumcisions that are not medically necessary have until now operated in a grey legal area. Until now they could claim that they were unaware that performing a circumcision is a crime.


Even if a physician was later found guilty by a court, there was a legal loophole and he could claim that the law was improper and avoid punishment. That is no longer the case, the Financial Times Deutschland said.


"The ruling is enormously important above all for doctors because it's the first time that they have a legal certainty," Holm Putzke of the University of Passau told the paper. He has been calling for prohibition for years.


“The court has, in contrast to many politicians, not allowed itself to be scared by the fear of being criticised as anti-Semitic or opposed to religion,” Putzke said.


"This decision could not only affect future legal rulings but in the best case it could lead to a change of consciousness among the affected religions when it comes to respecting the basic rights of children."


Jewish and Muslim groups have fought for years against a criminalisation of circumcision. They did not have any immediate comment on Monday's ruling, saying they needed to review it first, the paper said.


The court ruling is likely to be highly controversial – experts expect the matter will end up being decided by the Federal Constitutional Court.


The Cologne decision came after a Muslim doctor performed a circumcision on a four-year-old boy. Two days later the mother brought the child to the emergency room because he was bleeding.


The prosecutor's office learned of the situation and filed charges against the doctor. The doctor was found not guilty in the first instance, but the prosecutor appealed.


Source: The Local





The Local - Norway


June 13, 2012


Ban ritual circumcision of boys: Centre Party


“In my view, this is a custom that we cannot accept in a modern, civilized society. Our aim is to prioritize the rights of small children. Fortunately, it has become forbidden to circumcise girls, now it’s time for boys to get the same legal protection,” Klinge told newspaper Dagbladet.


Although the Centre Party is itself a junior partner in Norway’s Red-Green coalition government, the politician also criticized the government’s decision to consult experts on the possibility of introducing circumcision into the public healthcare system, a move she fears would legitimize the practice.


She stressed that she was not opposed to circumcision in cases where it was deemed a medical necessity.


“But circumcision based on ritual and religion is actually about holding down a newborn baby boy and cutting off part of a healthy sexual organ, with all the consequences that this might have for an individual’s future health and sex life,” said Klinge.


With this in mind, performing a circumcision on religious grounds ought to be made a criminal offence, she added.


Jan Helge Solbakk, a professor of medical ethics at Oslo University, agreed with Klinge’s criticism of the practice.


“It represents an irreversible operation on a boy who is not in a position to protect himself, and as such is in breach of basic human rights,” he told Dagbladet.


Source: The Local





Fox News


June 8, 2012


11 New York infants infected with herpes through ritual in Jewish circumcision


The practice of "oral-genital suction" performed during some Orthodox Jewish circumcision ceremonies could leave the infant with a potentially fatal herpes virus infection, health officials warn.


New York City and federal health authorities issued a public advisory Thursday cautioning against the sucking practice because it has been linked to 11 infants becoming infected with the herpes simplex virus type 1 since 2000. Ten of the infected newborns were hospitalized, two developed brain damage and two died, the health officials said.


A newborn can become infected when the adult performing the circumcision places his mouth on the circumcision wound to siphon blood away from the cut. The ritual is only embraced by a handful of sects within the Orthodox Jewish community, according to New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley.


"There is no safe way to perform oral suction on any open wound in a newborn," Farley said in a news release. "Parents considering ritual Jewish circumcision need to know that circumcision should only be performed under sterile conditions, like any other procedures that create open cuts, whether by mohelim [the circumciser] or medical professionals."


A report on the infections also appears in the June 8 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.


Almost 80 percent of adults carry the herpes simplex virus type 1, which is usually spread orally through common activities and is different from the sexually transmitted type 2 version of the virus. The common cold sore is a typical sign of infection with the herpes simplex virus type 1, but most people don't know they are infected because they have no history of symptoms, officials said.


In six of the 11 circumcision cases, health care providers confirmed that the suction ritual had taken place, although there was evidence of a connection in the other five cases. The ritual more than tripled the risk of infection among newborns getting circumcised, the CDC report stated.


Source: Fox News






March 3, 2012


Baby dies in circumcision




A two-week old boy died at a Brooklyn hospital in September after contracting herpes through a religious circumcision ritual that ignited controversy in 2005 after another infant died, the Daily News has learned.


The unidentified infant died Sept. 28, 2011, at Maimonides Hospital, according to a spokeswoman for the city Medical Examiner, who confirmed the death after a News inquiry.


The cause of death was listed as “disseminated herpes simplex virus Type 1, complicating ritual circumcision with oral suction.”


City officials declined to comment Friday.


It’s unclear who performed the circumcision.


In 2004, city health officials revealed that a baby boy died after a circumcision carried out by a Rockland County rabbi who specializes in the centuries-old, ultra-Orthodox ritual known as metzizah b’ peh.


Under the practice, the rabbi or mohel removes blood from the wound with his mouth — a practice city health officials have criticized, saying it carried “inherent risks” for babies.


In 2004, three infants circumcised by Rabbi Yitzchok Fischer were determined to have contracted herpes, city officials said.


Among them were twins circumcised in October 2004 after Fischer performed the religious ceremony known as a bris.


Source: NY Daily News





The Local


February 19, 2012


Swedish docs in circumcision protest


Circumcision of young boys for religious and non-medical reasons ought to be banned in Sweden, urged the Swedish Paediatric Society (Svenska barnläkarföreningen, BLF).


In a statement submitted to the National Board of Health and Welfare, the society called the procedure an assault.


"We consider it to be an assault on these boys," Staffan Janson, chairman of BLF's committee for ethical issues and children's rights, said to newspaper Göteborgs-Posten (GP).


Removing small boys' foreskin for reasons other than medical is controversial in Sweden.


After discussing the matter for several years, BLF has now concluded that the procedure ought to be banned on the grounds that the children are unable to form a decision in the matter.


According to BLF and Staffan Janson, circumcision is an attack on boys' integrity.


"It's such a complicated and difficult question, but even so, we've decided that this is a procedure to be done away with," Janson said.


"It's a mutilation of a child unable to decide for himself."


Not everyone agrees that circumcision is an assault, however.


"Parents decide things for their children all the time," Omar Mustafa, head of the Islamic Association in Sweden, said to GP.


"Allowing parents to decide over this matter isn't stranger than allowing them to decide whether their child is to be vaccinated or not," he continued.


Source: The Local - Sweden's News in English





Helsingin Sanomat




January 2, 2012


Circumcision assault case brings fine – conviction but no punishment for parents


Legal status of non-medical circumcisions remains murky.


Helsinki District Court imposed a fine on a man convicted of assault and battery on Friday for performing circumcisions on two Muslim boys. The parents of the boys were convicted of incitement to assault and battery, but no punishment was meted out.


The man who performed the circumcisions said that he had done so thousands of times in Turkey and Iran. However, he lacked the licences required for performing such procedures in Finland.


One of the boys suffered a painful infection.


Finland does not have legislation on religiously mandated circumcisions.


In 2008 the Finnish Supreme Court ruled that religiously mandated circumcisions are not illegal if they are performed according to proper medical procedure.


In its Friday ruling, Helsinki District Court stated that it would be a misinterpretation of the Supreme Court’s earlier decision to see it as authorising non-medical circumcisions.


After the Supreme Court’s ruling, Finland has signed the Convention on Human rights and Biomedicine of the Council of Europe.


Under the convention, procedures affecting a person’s health must be performed according to applicable professional obligations and requirements. Surgical procedures can be performed on someone incapable of giving informed consent only if there are immediate benefits.


The court ruled that circumcision is a procedure that the person who undergoes it should give consent to. Another prerequisite would be that the person performing the procedure should be a medical or health care professional with a licence in Finland or elsewhere in the European Union.


The court sentenced the man who performed the circumcisions to 60 income-linked “day fines”, which in his case amounted to EUR 360. He and the parents were also ordered to pay EUR 3,000 in compensation to one of the two boys, and EUR 500 to the other.


Source: Helsingin Sanomat





The Sacramento Bee




October 2, 2011


Jerry Brown signs bill prohibiting circumcision bans


Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a bill prohibiting cities and counties from banning male circumcision, his office announced today.


Assembly Bill 768 by Assemblyman Mike Gatto, D-Los Angeles, was inspired by a San Francisco ballot measure designed to prohibit child circumcision there. A judge in July ordered the circumcision ban off the November ballot, but Gatto's bill proceeded through the Legislature, where it passed with unanimous votes.


Gatto argued that such bans were an affront to the exercise of "personal, medical and religious freedom."


San Francisco's first-of-its-kind initiative drew national attention for targeting circumcision, removal of the male foreskin, a practice that has biblical roots and that many believe was commanded by God in a covenant with Abraham. Opponents of circumcision liken it to "genital mutilation" - the forced removal of a healthy body part from an unconsenting child.


U.S. circumcision rates have been declining for several years. Today, about half of all boys born in hospitals are circumcised, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Source: The Sacramento Bee





Duth News




September 14, 2011


Doctors campaign against 'risky and painful' circumcision of boys


The Dutch doctors federation KNMG has again called on ministers, MPs and human rights organisations to speak out against the practice of circumcising young boys.


Between 10,000 and 15,000 boys are circumcised in the Netherlands every year, often on religious grounds and without anaesthetics, the organisation says. This is against human rights.


The intervention is not without risk and is increasingly being seen as 'not normal', the organisation says.


It is not calling for an outright ban because of fears this would drive the practice underground and lead to more complications.


In particular, the KNMG says insurance companies should ask if they should be using public funds to pay for an unnecessary operation.







The San Francisco Examiner




July 28, 2011


It’s official: Circumcision ban off November ballot in San Francisco


By Dan Schreiber


San Francisco’s circumcision ban is officially off the November ballot, after a judge ruled Thursday that state law expressly preempts local jurisdictions from regulating health care professionals.


A San Francisco Superior Court judge upheld a tentative ruling from Wednesday that sided with the Jewish Community Relations Council and other individuals suing The City and San Francisco resident Lloyd Schofield, who gathered more than 12,000 signatures to get the ban on the ballot.


If passed by voters, circumcision on males under 18 in San Francisco would have been a misdemeanor punishable by a $1,000 fine and up to a year in jail. Schofield calls male circumcision is a brutal practice, just as deplorable as widely condemned female circumcision practices.


The procedure is held in spiritual importance by members of the Jewish and Islamic faiths, which came into public debate when campaign material for the ban included arguably anti-Semitic comics depicting Jewish circumcision practitioners as villains.


Abby Porth, associate director at the Jewish Community Relations Council, said she welcomes Thursday’s decision by Loretta M. Giorgi. She said her organization’s opposition was about combating negative attention on male circumcision and not so much over fear the ban might be approved by voters.


“Even if it made the ballot, we don’t believe it would have passed,” Porth said.


Source: The San Francisco Examiner





NBC New York



May 5, 2011


Queens Toddler Dies After Routine Circumcision


His family wants answers from hospital officials and doctors


By Paul DeBenedetto


A Queens toddler died on the operating table this week after a routine circumcision -- a tragedy his family thinks was the result of the wrong analgesic.


Hospital officials say it "could take weeks" to get results of an autopsy for the 2-year-old boy, Jamaal Coleson Jr.


A spokesman from the medical examiner's office told NBC New York that an initial autopsy was inconclusive and that the baby's remains are "pending further testing," which could take weeks. But Coleson's family wants answers sooner.


"I want to know what happened," the boy's uncle, Jabbar Coleson, 23, told the New York Post from his hometown of Atlanta. "He was so sweet and energetic and so happy, a very happy child. I am very upset and I am glad I am a couple of hundred miles away. I have time to calm down and say my prayers."


Coleson Jr. died on Tuesday, just 10 hours after what the boy's uncle called a routine procedure at Beth Israel Hospital in Manhattan.


Jabbar Coleson told the paper that his nephew was supposed to receive a local analgesic but instead received a general. The child "woke up and laughed and called for his mother and then went critical." He was declared dead later that night at 8:35 p.m.


In a statement, the hospital said it reported the case as an "unexpected death" to the state Department of Health, and will conduct an internal review.


"This is a devastating event for his family as well as for the staff at Beth Israel who tried to save his life," the statement read.


Source: NBC New York







April 27, 2011


Circumcision ban in San Francisco considered


By Gabrielle Saveri


SAN FRANCISCO— A group opposed to male circumcision said on Tuesday they have collected more than enough signatures to qualify a proposal to ban the practice in San Francisco as a ballot measure for November elections.


But legal experts said that even if it were approved by a majority of the city's voters, such a measure would almost certainly face a legal challenge as an unconstitutional infringement on freedom of religion.


Circumcision is a ritual obligation for infant Jewish boys, and is also a common rite among Muslims, who account for the largest share of circumcised men worldwide.


The leading proponent of a ban, Lloyd Schofield, 59, acknowledged circumcision is widely socially accepted but he said it should still be outlawed.


"It's excruciatingly painful and permanently damaging surgery that's forced on men when they're at their weakest and most vulnerable," he told Reuters. His group submitted about 12,000 signatures supporting his proposed ban, said Rachel Gosiengfiao, campaign services manager for the city's Department of Elections. The agency has 30 days to verify the petitions. He needs 7,200 valid signatures to qualify.


Measure would make circumcision a misdemeanor


The measure, which would only apply in San Francisco, would make it a misdemeanor crime to circumcise a boy before he is 18 years of age, regardless of the parents' religious beliefs. The maximum penalty would be a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.


Schofield, who would not discuss his current occupation but previously worked for hotels in the San Francisco Bay area, has found allies for his cause in the anti-circumcision groups Intact America and the National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers, according to his group's website.


However, some experts said it was doubtful such a measure would withstand legal scrutiny if challenged.


"The practice of Judaism requires a boy to be circumcised. I suspect the California courts would ultimately require the city to demonstrate the practice is harmful," said Jennifer Rothman, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles.


"I don't think there's sufficient medical evidence that it is, which would place the law's constitutionality in question."


But Josh Davis, professor and associate dean for faculty scholarship at the University of San Francisco School of Law, said the U.S. Supreme Court has previously indicated in rulings that "religions don't get a free pass."


"So if circumcision is the harm that's being targeted — because circumcision is perceived as causing harm, and not because it is a religious practice — it might well be a constitutionally valid law," he said.


Schofield's proposal would make exceptions for boys who need a circumcision for health reasons.


Nevertheless, Davis and Rothman both said voters would be likely to reject the measure at the polls.


"I think that people are very likely to react to it as interfering with religious practices," Davis said.







The Oregonian


Keemonta Peterson


April 8, 2011


More details emerge about Portland mom who is accused of trying to circumcise her baby at home


By Aimee Green, The Oregonian


The 29-year-old mom told a Portland police detective that she’d been inspired to circumcise her baby after reading the Old Testament.


The only problem was, her son was already three months old. And she was aware that pediatricians at OHSU Doernbecher Children's Hospital wouldn’t circumcise him because he was too old, she told police.


According to papers filed in Multnomah County Circuit Court this week and obtained by The Oregonian, the prosecution publicly outlined its case for the first time:


Keemonta Peterson told police she watched some YouTube videos about circumcisions. Then around midnight on the morning of Oct. 24 - using a box cutter as a scalpel and a pair of pliers as a tourniquet - she began the procedure. She had no experience.


When the bleeding wouldn’t stop, she tried to stitch her baby up. Her 13-year-old son watched on in distress. After two hours of uncontrolled bleeding, Peterson decided she needed help and called 9-1-1 to her home near East Burnside Street and 127th Avenue.


Medics rushed the infant to OHSU, where he was initially listed in critical condition.


Deputy district attorney John Casalino offered these details in a memorandum opposing Peterson’s attempt to get out of Multnomah County jail this week. Peterson had been locked up since her arrest March 8.


The unemployed mother of four was being held in lieu of $550,000 bail, under accusations of first- and second-degree assault and first-degree criminal mistreatment. To be convicted of first-degree assault, a judge must find that Peterson caused “serious physical injury to a child under six years of age.”


According to the prosecutor’s motion, a doctor described the baby’s condition upon arrival as life threatening, and the pain as immense.


Today, the boy appears to have recovered, with no apparent permanent injury.


At a hearing Tuesday, the prosecutor tried to persuade a judge not to make it easier for Peterson to get out of jail pending trial. But Peterson’s attorney, Scott Raivio, argued her bail should be reduced. His arguments were supported by a Close Street Supervision deputy, who noted Peterson has strong family support and had been attending mental-health counseling three times a week before she was booked in jail.


Judge David Rees lowered Peterson’s bail to $5,000. She posted $500 — the required 10 percent — and was released Wednesday to the supervision of the deputy. She must check in regularly, among other conditions.


She has been allowed to see her four children, who are staying with family members, during supervised visits.


According to the prosecution, Peterson said she has concerns about her mental health. She told the Oregon Department of Human Services that in the past she has been overcome with paranoia, and she and her children would stay inside. A month after the botched circumcision, she said she suffered “auditory hallucinations” and manic episodes that prevented her from sleeping for days.


She told authorities that she follows the “Hebrew” religion, but doesn’t attend services at any particular establishment.


An OHSU spokeswoman said it's true that pediatricians at OHSU won't perform circumcisions on boys older than four weeks because of the increased pain, need for general anesthesia and greater risk of bleeding. But urologists at the hospital will perform the procedure on boys older than four weeks. Peterson's trial is tentatively scheduled for June.


Source: The Local - Sweden's News in English





The Local


December 14, 2010


Man jailed for illegally circumcising young boys


A Swedish court has sentenced a man to prison for performing illegal circumcisions, the first-ever conviction under the country's laws on the circumcision of boys.


A 50-year-old Egyptian citizen was sentenced by Södertorn District Court on Monday to two months in prison for illegally removing the foreskin from small boys.


The man was on trial for having circumcised nine boys without a licence to do so issued by the National Board of Health and Welfare.


The case marked the first time that Sweden's law on circumcising boys had been tested in court since coming into force nine years ago.


He was also convicted for assault for having circumcised a boy from Tierp in eastern Sweden without sufficient anaesthesia and two counts of causing bodily harm involving two brothers from the Stockholm suburb of Botkyrka who suffered tissue damage, pain and loss of circulation from a bandage that was used as a tourniquet.


During the trial, a film was shown to support allegations that the boy from Tierp wasn't sufficiently anesthetized during the procedure.


In addition to serving time in prison, the man must also pay 14,600 kronor ($2,140) in compensation to a boy from Tierp, as well as 4,600 kronor to the two other boys, the local Arbetarbladet newspaper reported on Tuesday. According to the Swedish law, which came into force in 2001, only people with a special licence issued by the health board can perform circumcisions for non-medical reasons and only on children younger than two months old.


Doctors can also carry out the procedure, including on older children.


The 50-year-old previously had a licence to perform circumcisions, but the health board revoked it because of doubts about his abilities.


The health board doesn't think Sweden's law works, estimating that only one-third of the roughly 3,000 boys circumcised for religious reasons in Sweden each year have the procedure performed by people with authorisation.


Source: The Local - Sweden's News in English








November 19, 2010


'Intactivists' to San Francisco: Ban circumcision


(CNN) -- In the California city that banned Happy Meal toys, outlawed sitting on sidewalks during daylight hours and fined residents for not sorting garbage into recycling, compost and trash, Lloyd Schofield wants to add a new law to the books in San Francisco: A ban on all male circumcisions.


Those who violate the ban could be jailed (not more than one year) or fined (not more than $1,000), under his proposal. Circumcisions even for religious reasons would not be allowed. At this point, Schofield's proposal is an idea that would have to clear several hurdles to be considered.


Schofield and like-minded advocates who call themselves "intactivists" seek to make it "unlawful to circumcise, excise, cut, or mutilate the whole or any part of the foreskin, testicles, or penis" of anyone 17 or younger in San Francisco.


The circumcision debate has passionate advocates on each side.


Your thoughts on circumcision


In some families, it's a cultural or religious tradition, or parents want sons to look like their fathers. Other parents decry it as mutilation. Medical evidence has shown mixed risks and benefits. Apart from the San Francisco proposal, circumcisions are under scientific scrutiny.


While widespread in the United States, circumcision rates could be falling, according to recent surveys. About 65 percent of American male infants born in hospitals were circumcised in 1999, according to latest data available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


While nationally the circumcision rate has remained steady, the most dramatic decline occurred in the West, where it fell from 64 percent in 1974 to 37 percent in 1999. Earlier this year, there were unconfirmed estimates that the circumcision rate had fallen to fewer than half for boys born in U.S. hospitals, The New York Times reported last summer, citing a federal report at the International AIDS Conference.


The American Academy of Pediatrics task force on circumcision has been reviewing recent research before it issues an official new position on the issue, probably next year, one panel member said.


"In the past, we've said newborn circumcision has benefits and risks," said Dr. Douglas Diekema, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington. "Given the fact that neither the risks nor benefits are particularly compelling, this is a decision to be made by parents." The American Academy of Pediatrics currently holds that there is evidence of circumcision's potential benefits, but not enough to recommend routine newborn circumcisions.


Both anti- and pro-circumcision forces have pushed their positions based on medical and quasi-health claims. Fifty years ago, people advocated circumcisions because of the false notion that it reduced masturbation, Diekema said.


"There have always been people opposed to it," he said. "One of the differences between today and 50 years ago is two primary things: Advocacy groups are better organized. They are much more vocal and the internet has allowed that expression in that way."


In San Francisco, Schofield's proposal is not a lone effort. He is part of the Bay Area intactivist group, which calls the procedure "male genital mutilation" and likens it to cutting female genitals.


Schofield's proposal has a long way to go, requiring 7,168 signatures by April next year to appear on the November 2011 ballot. Throughout the country, there have been similar measures, including a failed effort in Massachusetts earlier this year.


"It's up to the choice of the individual -- not the parents, society or religion," Schofield said. "This is a choice for body integrity. Just as females are protected from having a drop of blood drawn from their genitals, baby boys deserve the same protection."


Intactivists also say:


-- Circumcisions are not medically necessary and violate the child's body.


-- It requires a medical procedure, which carries risk of complications and pain.


-- Foreskins are part of the natural body to help protect the penis.


Proponents say:


-- Circumcision can reduce the risk of penile cancer, a rare disease.


-- It is part of traditional, religious practices in Jewish and Muslim faiths.


-- Men who are circumcised are less likely to get sexually transmitted infections such as genital herpes and human papillomavirus, according to a study of adult African men published 2009 in the New England Journal of Medicine.


Public health efforts have sought to increase circumcision rates in Africa to reduce STIs such as HIV/AIDS. It's unclear how circumcision lowers infection rates, but researchers speculate that the foreskin could foster a more favorable environment for viruses.


It's also possible to develop swelling and tenderness if the foreskin is not properly cared for.


"There are numbers of patients who had no clue what had to be done, because they didn't handle their foreskin correctly and they ended up getting adhesion," said Dr. Michael Brady, a professor of pediatrics at the Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. "That can happen; it's not a myth."


But Brady added, "That by itself, is not reason to circumcise an infant."


Dr. Emily Blake, an obstetrician-gynecologist and mohel in New York, said a ban would limit the rights of doctors and patients, cause an undue burden on families with newborns and stand in the way of religious freedom.


"It is part of our commitment to God. We believe we do it in a very humane, loving, supportive way," said Blake, who performs religious and non-religious circumcisions for boys, as well as naming ceremonies for girls. "There are certainly many places in the world where a ban on circumcision is one of the prongs of an anti-Semitic movement -- anti-Jewish and also anti-Muslim."


A circumcision ceremony might involve just a few people, or a few hundred, along with food, readings and prayers. Babies are comforted with sugar, topical anesthetic and pain relievers, and many sleep through the circumcision, Blake said.


Removing the foreskin from a male is not an equivalent to removing the clitoris from a female, Blake said, in terms of pain or long-term effects.


"I think it's harder on the parents. We make this into a very scary, terrifying thing. Most babies do incredibly well,'" Blake said. "I've done a great job if the parents cry more than the baby does."


Most parents come to the doctor's office having already decided whether to circumcise, Diekema said. Only a small percentage of parents are undecided.


Amy Jo Jones of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, made the decision to have her two sons circumcised and it "wasn't about vanity."


After reading into the topic, Jones, writer and blogger who contributes to The Stir said: "The deciding factor for us was I wanted my son to be like his father. I didn't want him grow up and feel his body was different. It's not about how it looks or doesn't look. I knew there were some medical advantages, although it's not considered medically necessary. The deciding factor was for him feeling comfortable with body and like that of his dad."


Jesse Sterling of Albany, California, decided to not to have his 10-month-old son circumcised.


Despite his Jewish background, he said the surgery would have "put my baby through a painful situation because of some beliefs. At this point, people do it because it's a habit." Sterling, who was not circumcised, said he was teased as a kid in school for how it looked.


"Ever since then, I was like, 'Whatever. I don't care.' Don't try to sway me, other than informing me more thoroughly," he said.


Source: CNN








September 13, 2010


Florida Woman Sues Hospital After Son Circumcised Against Her Wishes


A Florida mother is suing South Miami Hospital after doctors allegedly performed a circumcision on her infant son without her permission, according to a press release from the woman’s lawyer.


Vera Delgado gave birth to her son Mario in August and told hospital staff members several times that she did not want him circumcised, as it was a family tradition. Eight days later, Delgado found that even though her son was still in intensive care, doctors had performed the unauthorized surgery.


Delgado is now suing the hospital for battery.


"They went and they did an unnecessary, unwanted surgical procedure on this child without the parents’ permission," said Spencer Aronfeld, Delgado’s lawyer.


A statement issued from the hospital apologized for the incident.


“The baby’s circumcision was an unfortunate mistake caused by a misread consent form. As soon as the error was discovered, the doctor and nurses let the family know what had occurred. We also immediately implemented new processes to ensure this mistake will not occur again. The procedure itself was performed following appropriate surgical guidelines and the baby didn’t have any complications. Nevertheless, we’re all deeply sorry that this happened.”








August 16, 2010


Steep Drop Seen in Circumcisions in U.S.




Despite a worldwide campaign for circumcision to slow the spread of AIDS, the rate of circumcision among American baby boys appears to be declining.


A little-noted presentation by a federal health researcher last month at the International AIDS Conference in Vienna suggested that the rate had fallen precipitously — to fewer than half of all boys born in conventional hospitals from 2006 to 2009, from about two-thirds through the 1980s and ’90s.


Last week, officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cautioned that the figures in the presentation were not definitive. But they are already stirring a sharp debate on the Internet.


The numbers were presented to the AIDS conference by a C.D.C. researcher, Charbel E. El Bcheraoui. The presentation was not covered by any mainstream news outlets, but a report by the news service Elsevier Global Medical News, along with a photograph of a slide from the presentation, quickly made the rounds of the blogosphere.


The slide portrays a precipitous drop in circumcision, to just 32.5 percent in 2009 from 56 percent in 2006. The numbers are based on calculations by SDI Health, a company in Plymouth Meeting, Pa., that analyzes health care data; they do not include procedures outside hospitals (like most Jewish ritual circumcisions) or not reimbursed by insurance.


Andrew Kress, the chief executive of SDI Health, cautioned that the data had not yet been published and was still being analyzed, but he confirmed that the trend had been toward fewer circumcisions each year.


He added that measuring the circumcision rate was not the purpose of the study, which was designed to measure the rate of complications from the procedure.


Opponents of circumcision hailed the trend as a victory of common sense over what they call culturally accepted genital mutilation. For federal health officials, who have been debating whether to recommend circumcision to stem the spread of AIDS, the news suggests an uphill battle that could be more difficult than expected.


C.D.C. officials last week declined requests for interviews about the study, but a spokeswoman, Elizabeth-Ann Chandler, answered questions by e-mail. She reiterated that the agency used the SDI figures to calculate the rate of complications, not of circumcisions.


“C.D.C. was not involved in the collection of the data that was cited, nor has C.D.C. undertaken any review of this particular data for the purpose of calculating rates,” she wrote. “As such, we cannot comment on the accuracy of this particular estimate of infant male circumcision.”


But she did not dispute the waning popularity of circumcision. “What we can tell you is that male infant circumcision rates have declined somewhat in this decade,” she wrote.


The study found a very low rate of complications associated with newborn circumcisions; most were considered mild and no babies died.


Organizations opposed to circumcision said parents may be responding to the message their groups have been spreading through their Web sites and a video distributed to childbirth educators.


“Word has gotten out that it’s not necessary, it’s harmful and it’s painful,” said Georganne Chapin, executive director of Intact America, a nonprofit organization based in Tarrytown, N.Y.


Greater awareness about female circumcision may have influenced parents as well, she said, asking, “How can you think it’s O.K. to cut little boys, when you are horrified by the idea of cutting little girls?”


Both the C.D.C. and the American Academy of Pediatrics have been reviewing the scientific evidence on circumcision with an eye to issuing new policy recommendations, but so far neither body has done so, although the federal agency was to have issued its new recommendations by the end of last year.


Officials from the pediatrics academy said its new policy would be issued by early 2011; a task force that studied the topic has completed its report, which is being reviewed by several other committees, said Dr. Michael Brady, chairman of pediatrics at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, who served on the task force. The academy is likely to adopt a more encouraging stance than its current neutral position and to state that the procedure has health benefits beyond H.I.V. prevention, Dr. Brady said.


The World Health Organization in 2007 endorsed male circumcision as “an important intervention to reduce the risk of heterosexually acquired H.I.V.”


“No one is going to tell a parent, ‘You have to circumcise your child.’ That would be foolish,” Dr. Brady said. “The key thing physicians should be doing is providing information on both risks and benefits and allow the parent to make the best decision.”


Several state Medicaid programs stopped covering circumcision after the academy issued its current policy in 1999, and Dr. Brady said that may be one reason fewer parents opt for the procedure. Other possible reasons include a growing Hispanic population that has traditionally been disinclined to circumcision, as well the anti-circumcision movement and a broader trend among parents to spurn medical interventions like vaccination.


Some 80 percent of American men are circumcised, one of the highest rates in the developed world. Yet even advocates of circumcision acknowledge that an aggressive circumcision drive in the United States would be unlikely to have a drastic impact on H.I.V. rates here, since the procedure does not seem to protect those at greatest risk, men who have sex with men.


And while studies in Africa found that circumcision reduced the risk of a man’s becoming infected by an H.I.V.-positive female partner, it is not clear that a circumcised man with H.I.V. would be less likely to infect a woman.


Source: The New York Times






May 28, 2010


Dutch doctors urge ban on circumcision


The Royal Dutch Medical Association on Thursday suggested a possible ban on elective circumcisions for young boys, saying they were medically unnecessary and violated children's rights.


The 161-year-old organization, which represents more than 46,000 doctors and students, called the procedure "a violation of the integrity of the body."


The group, known by its Dutch initials KNMG, proposed a dialogue between doctors and religious groups on the issue.


Most non-therapeutic circumcisions in the Netherlands are performed on religious grounds. In the capital of Amsterdam, parents seeking circumcisions for elective reasons are often referred to a small clinic in a heavily Muslim neighborhood.


"KNMG sees good reasons for a legal ban on non-therapeutic circumcisions, but fears that this will lead to the operation going underground," it said in a statement.


In a column on the KNMG's website, chairman Arie Nieuwenhuijzen Kruseman said some 80 per cent of the group's members agreed circumcision should be discouraged.


According to a 2007 World Health Organization report, some 30 per cent of men worldwide are circumcised.


Source: The Sydney Morning Herald






May 26, 2010


Doctors Reverse Stand on Circumcision


The American Academy of Pediatrics has reversed its decision last month regarding the practice of female circumcision by immigrants from some African, Middle Eastern and Asian cultures. The academy had suggested in a policy statement that doctors be given permission to perform a ceremonial pinprick or nick on girls if it would keep their families from sending them overseas for the full circumcision. Although the nick on a girl’s clitoris is illegal in the United States, the academy’s bioethics panel had noted it is practiced in some countries. The policy statement ignited a storm of criticism from opponents of female genital cutting. Dr. Judith S. Palfrey, president of the academy, said: “We’re saying don’t do it. Do everything that you can to support that family in this tough time, but don’t be pulled into the procedure.”


Source: The New York Times






March 26, 2010


Circumcision on kitchen floor gets dad a year in jail




A Lower Mainland man who botched the circumcision of his four-year-old son has been sentenced to a year in jail.


Noting the unprecedented nature of the case, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Marion Allan also ordered that the 34-year-old father of two, who cannot be identified because of a publication ban, serve two years of probation.


The judge said most Canadians would be shocked at the details of the accused's actions and found that a jail term was needed for denunciation and general deterrence.


The dad, who had previously botched an attempted circumcision on himself, had given his son honey wine before placing him on garbage bags on the kitchen floor. Wielding a razor blade, he tried to cut away the foreskin on the little boy's penis.


But the cuts started to bleed and he applied an ash-like powder called Wonder Dust -- normally used to treat wounds for racehorses and not considered fit for use on humans. The boy, who woke crying in the night following the procedure, was several days later taken to hospital for treatment and the circumcision was completed.


The dad claimed he did the procedure for religious reasons. Allan said she wasn't passing judgment on the procedure of circumcision itself but hoped to send a message that it's a criminal offence for parents to attempt the operation on their children.


"The accused is distressingly detached from reality . . . He shows no remorse for his actions and believes he was wrongfully convicted."


The judge added that the accused attempted to minimize his actions and showed a wanton and reckless disregard for the safety of his son.


In October last year, the judge found him guilty of criminal negligence causing bodily harm in connection with the April 2007 incident. Crown counsel Daniel Porte sought a sentence of 12 to 24 months in jail followed by three years of probation.


The accused was represented at trial by Doug Christie, but just prior to submissions on sentencing on Wednesday, the lawyer said he'd been dismissed. When the hearing resumed Thursday, he said his client had rehired him.


Christie portrayed his client as an honest but misguided man whose life was turned upside down by the court case. The conditions of probation include that he take counselling and that he provide support for his wife and children. He also received a 10-year ban on the possession of weapons.


Source: The Province








March 2, 2010


Circumcision ban bill


BOSTON (FOX25, myfoxboston) - To circumcise or not to circumcise?


It's a question parents of baby boys have to decide but now there's a discussion on Beacon Hill that would take that choice away from parents in this state.


State lawmakers will debate a bill today that would make it illegal for parents to circumcise boys, unless there's a medical reason.


It would ban the procedure on any male under the age of 18 even for religious reasons.


Under the legislation, people who disregard the ban would face a fine and possible 14-year prison sentence.


The proposal classifies male circumcision as genital mutilation and supporters of the bill say male infants can't possible consent to the procedure.


They testified here on Beacon Hill, calling circumcision unethical at its core.


The Centers for Disease Control says lack of circumcision has been linked to sexually transmitted diseases, urinary tract infections and penile cancer.


In the US, common complications include minor bleeding and infection.


The CDC doesn't recommend either way, preferring to leave the decision up to the person and their parents.


Here in Massachusetts, some say there are bigger issues at hand for lawmakers.


Source: WFXT-TV FOX25








Dr. Marvin Wang and nurse Donna Mearn

prepare 1-day-old Kevin Irmer for a circumcision at

Massachusetts General Hospital for Children.

Dr. Wang gives patients anesthesia for the procedure.


February 21, 2010


Plan to ban circumcision a longshot


Advocates eager for State House hearing


By Jessica Fargen


A national group that views the circumcision of newborns as “genital mutilation” is taking its fight to Massachusetts and will press the Legislature to ban the age-old procedure at a hearing next month.


Matthew Hess, president of a group called the Bill to End Male Genital Mutilation, said the March 2 hearing at the State House is “the most important event to happen” for his budding organization.


“We are one step closer to making this a law and there’s a lot more attention being paid to it now,” said Hess, a Californian who was circumcised as an infant and underwent a foreskin restoration in his 20s in an attempt, he said, to increase sexual sensation.


Before Massachusetts, Hess’ group tried to get bills submitted in 14 other states, to no avail.


Sen. Michael W. Morrissey (D-Quincy) filed the bill on behalf of Charles A. Antonelli of Quincy under the right of free petition guaranteed in the state constitution, according to the senator’s office. Morrissey has no comment on the bill and is planning no action on it, said Kate Grogan, a legislative aide.


Not a ‘harmless snip’


Antonelli and his allies say circumcision is painful and unnecessary, violates a baby’s human rights and decreases sexual sensation in mature males.


“For some reason society feels fit to make surgical amputations to somebody’s body without their consent,” said Antonelli, 43. “It’s really a personal choice. Most people think this is a harmless snip of useless tissue. It’s by far not.”


Antonelli, who is the Massachusetts chapter leader for Hess’ group, says he became involved in the anti-circumcision movement because he was physically damaged by circumcision.


The Massachusetts bill would amend the state’s Prohibition of Genital Mutilation Act to include a ban on circumcision for males under 18, unless medically necessary.


In Massachusetts, between 60 and 65 percent of male infants are circumcised, according to health statistics and doctors.


Nationally, newborn circumcisions have declined from 60 percent in 1998 to 55 percent in 2005, according to the U.S. Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project.


There is no religious exemption, which would dismay Muslim and Jewish families who circumcise infant males for religious reasons.


“It’s a terrible idea,” said Rabbi Ronne Friedman of Temple Israel in Boston, who feels banning circumcision would trample on religious traditions. He doubted the bill would pass.


“The only way something like this could go anywhere would be in a country very different than our own,” he said.


‘Unwise to ban it’


The medical community is largely neutral on circumcision, although recent studies of African men showing circumcision reduces transmission of sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV, have reignited debate.


No scientific data exists to recommend routine neonatal circumcision, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected this summer to issue recommendations on whether circumcision should be considered as a strategy against STDs in the United States for gay and straight men and male infants.


Nationally, some states have made it more difficult for poor families to pay for the procedure. Sixteen states no longer cover the procedure under Medicaid. Minnesota, in 2005, was the last state to stop covering circumcision for Medicaid patients.


Many doctors believe the decision should be left up to parents.


“It would be unwise to ban it, but I can understand the spirit behind it,” said Dr. Bob Barbieri, chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.


Karen and Barry Irmer of Danvers, who had their infant son, Kevin, circumcised on Thursday at Massachusetts General Hospital for Children, made the decision based on custom. All the men in their families are circumcised, Karen Irmer said.


“It’s the norm, I guess,” she said before Dr. Marvin Wang explained the procedure and its risks.


There is a 1 percent risk of complications, mostly mild bleeding, said Wang, director of newborn nurseries at MassGeneral Hospital for Children. Benefits include a reduced risk of urinary tract infections and penile cancer.


He said that, lacking any significant proven medical benefit, the choice is in parent’s hands. “They should make the decision,” he said.


Source: The Boston Herald




Charles Antonelli of Quincy is part of a

movement to ban circumcision in the Bay State.





November 17, 2009


Ritual circumcisions 'illegal'


Exclusive by Stephen Moyes (


DOCTORS performing ritual circumcisions on children face financial ruin, disciplinary action and even jail.


A test-case being brought by a 20-year-old man circumcised as a baby could, if successful, open the floodgates to claimants.


The unnamed man is to sue a GP still practising in Greater London for physical and psychological damage.


He will argue that circumcision on a child without a medical requirement is mutilation.


His father took him to be circumcised shortly after birth in accordance with his own religious beliefs.


Now the father is mortified at the mental and physical state of his adult son, and is supporting the case.


The father has documents that prove which GP carried out the circumcision.


Performing surgery on a person without adequate consent constitutes battery in law, which can be prosecuted in the civil courts.


But given the lack of consent the surgery also constitutes an assault which can be prosecuted under criminal law - meaning a guilty verdict could lead to a prison term.


The test-case is being supported by a legal firm, leading urologist, child protection agency and circumcision awareness body The National Organisation of Restoring Men (Norm).


Norm spokesman David Smith said: "Surgery is defined as 'manual or instrumental treatment of injuries or disorders of the body'. If no injury or disorder is present, then it can't be surgery.


"Circumcision is a mutilation, which is defined as 'to injure, to make imperfect by the removal of a part'. It is shocking that the NHS is responsible for mutilating children.


"We support a man's right to choose a ritual circumcision for himself, but not for anyone else.


"Adult circumcision is a straight-foward operation which can be undertaken in under 30minutes under local anaesthetic. There is no excuse for forcing it on children.


"There is growing belief by many people that the only way to make doctors put their scalpels down is to take legal action. This is not about money, it's about protecting the next generation."


Some doctors privately charge up to s350 for 'forced circumcision' of a baby brought to them by their parents.


Legal action can only be brought when the child reaches 18. There is then a three-year legal window in which they can take action against the GP.


Circumcision is a surgical procedure that can be performed on men and women and is done for a variety of reasons, some of them cultural or religious.


The General Medical Council does not have a public position on the issue of ritual male circumcision on children who cannot give informed consent.


A spokeswoman said: "We do not have general authority to determine public policy on issues that arise within medical practice - these are matters for society as a whole to determine, through the parliamentary process."


Katy Swaine, legal director of Child Rights Alliance for England, told the Mirror: "The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has made clear that female genital mutilation violates childrens rights and this position has been reflected in the banning of such procedures under UK legislation.


"The carrying out of circumcision procedures on young male children must also be examined in the context of childrens rights under the treaty - not least given the requirement for nondiscrimination in the application of treaty rights.


"A body of medical opinion has for some time supported the view that most male circumcision procedures do not have a medical basis. As such, given the invasiveness of the procedure and the negative consequences suffered by some individuals, there is a strong argument that it should not be carried out without informed consent from the individual who is to undergo the procedure.


"It is only a matter of time before these issues are raised in the courts by those who have undergone the procedure as children and have suffered negative consequences. In the meantime it behoves the NHS, Department of Health, professional medical bodies and communities to examine this issue seriously, acknowledging and addressing its implications for childrens rights."


The individual bringing the test-case is collating evidence and financial and legal support and will launch it next year.


A solicitor close to the case said: "The action being brought against the doctor is more likely to lead to financial damage rather than prosecution, but it is complicated and nothing can be ruled out.


"Doctors performing 'forced circumcision' on a small minority of children are acting in defiance of general medical council and are effectively medical rebels.


"Most urologists will only perform a circumcision on someone who needs it, just like any form of amputation.


"This is not a straightforward case. Parents have the right to give consent but only when in the best interests of a child. I don't think any act involving cutting off half of a child's penis is in their best interests."


Source: The Daily Mirror (U.K.)






October 15, 2009


Chiefs apologise to forced initiate


TRADITIONAL leaders have apologised to a teenager forced to undergo traditional circumcision after he took the matter to court, where it was ruled unconstitutional yesterday.


Bhisho High Court judge Yusuf Ebrahim ruled that circumcision without consent was illegal and went against an individual’s constitutional rights.


He made the ruling during the unprecedented court battle between a father and his son.


The son claimed to have been been forced to undergo traditional circumcision against his religious beliefs.


Bonani Yamani, a second year microbiology student at the University of the Free State, was forcefully circumcised after he was abducted by his father Lindile Yamani and 10 other men at his KwaMasele village near King William’s Town on March 3, 2007.


This was three months after he had returned from East London’s Frere Hospital, where he had been surgically circumcised in November 2006.


Yamani refused to go with the men, telling them that he had already been circumcised, but the men mocked the circumcision and took him to the bush were they circumcised him again.


Yesterday Ebrahim said that forced circumcision was against the Constitution and it was unfair for anyone to be discriminated against based on their religious beliefs.


Following an apology from Eastern Cape Contralesa, Yamani gave his consent for a settlement and withdrew his complaint.


The chairperson of Eastern Cape Contralesa, Nkosi Ngubo Mgcotyelwa, apologised to Yamani for remarks made by his predecessor, Chief Mwelo Nonkonyana, that people such as Yamani, who refused traditional circumcision, should be ostracised by the community. —


Source: Daily Dispatch (South Africa)






September 29, 2009


Man sentenced in child circumcision case


By Steve Obnesorge


LENOIR, NC (WBTV) - A father who admitted to circumcising his infant sons earlier this week was sentenced in Caldwell County court Friday afternoon.


John Marlowe was accused of two felony counts of abuse in the case and the jury convicted him Thursday on one count of misdemeanor child abuse. They jury was deadlocked in reaching a verdict in the other count and because of this, Judge Robert Ervin declared a mistrial.


On Friday, the court gave Marlowe the maximum sentence of 150 days which must be served after a 12-to-15 year sentence he received for an assault charge in which he was convicted of earlier this year.


Prior to the sentencing on Friday, Marlowe's ex-wife, Amber, pleaded with the court to keep Marlowe in jail as long as possible. She told the court that he once threatened that he would kill her if she ever told police about the circumcisions or testified against him in court. She told the court she is terrified that some day he's going to come after her.


As the defendant left the courthouse Friday afternoon, WBTV reporter Steve Ohnesorge asked Marlowe if he still thought what he did was right. Marlowe responded, "Yes."


When asked if he would ever circumcise any more children in which he might have in the future, Marlowe said, "Yes."


After he was sentenced, Marlowe told the court he would appeal.


During the proceedings earlier this week, Marlowe said he circumcised his boys for religious reasons, but he never specifically said which faith he followed.


He was convicted back in May of several assault charges with his ex-wife and children as the victims. Sentencing in that case was delayed until the trial this week.


On Wednesday, Marlowe admitted he circumcised two of his children without any anesthetic. He said God told him to perform the circumcisions.


"The main reason I did it was, the Holy Spirit pressed me to do it," he said.


Marlowe learned how to do the circumcisions, he said, by reading books and the internet. He used his shirt to demonstrate to the courtroom his surgical method.


"[I] pulled the skin over the tip and cut it off," he said.


He also revealed that he has circumcised a total of three children: one in Mecklenburg County and two in Caldwell County. At this time, he has not been charged in connection with the alleged incident in Mecklenburg County.


Marlowe says the pain couldn't have been that bad for the infants. He says he knows because he performed a circumcision on himself a few years ago when he was 30.


"The pain did not overwhelm me or stop me," he said. "Within an hour or so, [I] was able to put in 13 stitches."


He claims he did the right thing with his children and that putting him in jail for it sets a bad precedent.


On Tuesday, Marlowe confronted his accusers -- his ex-wife and a second woman he claimed he was married to at the time.


Marlowe said this is all about religious freedom and his right to circumcise his children. "It hasn't been illegal till now, why should it be illegal?" Marlowe said.


Marlowe kept reminding witnesses and the court that this was a landmark case.


"Do you understand what the outcome of the case will do to the state and this country?" he asked.


However, prosecutors say this is not about religious freedom, but instead is about what one man did to his children.


Marlowe's ex-wife, Amber Marlowe, said he used a box knife to circumcise her son.


Sara Fleming, who also lived with John Marlowe, described how he circumcised her child.


"He held the foreskin out, took the box cutter, and made an incision," Fleming she said.


Marlowe didn't deny doing that or how the infants reacted.


Both women said they couldn't stop John Marlowe from performing the procedure because they were fearful for their lives. Fleming described her escape months later.


"It was necessary for me to leave out a back window with just the clothes I had on," she said, "[I was] running for my life."


Amber Marlowe says she's testifying now because she finally feels safe.


"I'm no longer under your power, I no longer have nightmares of you coming and killing me, I know you are safe behind bars where you can't reach me," she said.


As for the Caldwell County victims who were just a few days old when the circumcisions occurred, one is still in the custody of Department of Social Services. The second child is with his mother, Sara Fleming. A doctor told us the children are well and should not have any long lasting physical effects.









July 25, 2009


Swedish doctors refuse to circumcise boys


Many doctors and several local authorities in Sweden refuse to circumcise boys unless it is medically motivated, reported Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper.


Gunnar Göthberg, chairman of the Swedish Pediatric Surgeons Association (Svensk barnkirurgisk förening), compared the procedure to female genital mutilation.


A survey done by the association reported that two of three pediatric surgeons do not want to perform circumcision. Göthberg regards the operation as an assault since the procedure is done without the child's consent.


Dagens Nyheter reported that 12 of 21 local municipalities also refuse to perform circumcisions for non-medical reasons.


Around 3,000 circumcisions are estimated to be done in Sweden each year. Of these, around 2,000 are performed by people who are not doctors and who do not have a medical license, which pose risks for the child and lead to complications.


Circumcision of boys for non-medical reasons is permitted in Sweden, and the Swedish Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen) is of the opinion that a prohibition would be an illegal limitation on religious freedom.


The authority has proposed that the issue should be legally regulated and that all municipalities should offer male circumcision for non-medical reasons. The Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions believes that a formal recommendation would be sufficient.


Critics claim that non-medical circumcision is in violation of the United Nation's Declaration of the Rights of the Child, reported DN.


Source: The Local - Sweden's News in English






June 3, 2009


Routine operation may be a crime


By Andrew Darby


ONCE routine, now often thought unkind, the cut may also be illegal. Parental consent might not be enough to protect the circumcisers of baby boys from later legal action.


In a rare legal analysis of the medical procedure, the Tasmanian Law Reform Institute found that criminal and civil law lacked certainty, and may abuse the rights of a child.


No specific laws regulate the removal of the foreskin in Australia, and there are few clear answers in general law, according to an institute researcher, Warwick Marshall. "What is clear is that the current laws were not framed with male circumcision in mind," he said in an issues paper released yesterday.


About 12 per cent of newborn boys are believed to be circumcised in Australia, down from 90 per cent in the 1950s.


Routine circumcision is no longer performed in most Australian public hospitals, and Australian medical colleges combined to conclude in 2004 that "there is no medical indication for routine neonatal circumcision".


However, according to the law reform institute, most practising Jews still consider it a requirement of their faith, to be conducted by a specially-trained circumciser eight days after birth, while Muslims are the largest identifiable group who do it today.


Concerns about the circumcisers' legal position were first raised by the Tasmanian Children's Commissioner, Paul Mason, who referred the issue to the institute.


"The whole subject of non-therapeutic circumcision on boys is so fraught with emotion and unreasonable assumption that it is hard to find answers to the most basic legal questions," Mr Mason concluded.


He found that the risks included pain, surgical mishap or complications, and decreased sexual pleasure. Among the claimed benefits were reduced chance of infections, and cultural or religious conformity.


The institute's paper, "Non-Therapeutic Male Circumcision", found that the consequences of an ill-advised procedure could be particularly grave.


"Even if a court considers the physical loss following circumcision negligible, the social and psychological effects of a wrong decision can be devastating."


The institute said in law the operation might be considered an assault or a wounding, though there was little legal guidance on whether a routine circumcision was injurious.


"There is uncertainty as to whether the consent of a parent for the circumcision of their child is sufficient to allow a circumciser to legally perform the procedure," it said.


Source: The Sydney Morning Herald







"Intactivists," demonstrating yesterday, want a federal ban on newborn circumcision.


March 31, 2009


Rallying in the Name of the Unkindest Cut?


Sharp Rhetoric Abounds In Circumcision Debate


By Dan Zak
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 31, 2009; C01 

In the shadow of the nation's most recognizable phallic symbol, they gather and march. There are about 50 of them, all ages, both sexes, nearly all white, smiling, quiet, enjoying the sun as they make a slow loop in front of the White House with their signs of protest. Their mounted photos of pink squealing babies make the event look, at first glance, like an anti-abortion rally.


But look closer at the squealing baby photos and see why they're squealing.


On second thought, don't. Just read the big black sign with bold white letters:








These people are intactivists. As in, activists who want male genitalia kept intact. As in, people who want a federal ban on male circumcision for newborns.


A herd of eighth-graders on a class trip gets mixed up in the rally yesterday. The girls snap photos as the boys gawk and giggle.


"Freedom to protest, kids, freedom to protest," says their teacher, delivering the day's civics lesson.


A man walks by with a sign depicting a cartoon baby exclaiming, "You Want to Cut Off WHAT?"


To no one in particular, the teacher mutters: "It's gonna be their favorite souvenir. They got a picture that says 'penis' on it."


It's Genital Integrity Awareness Week, in case you didn't know, as well as National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Female genital mutilation has received worldwide attention and condemnation -- and was banned by Congress 12 years ago this week -- and now intactivists say it's time for equal rights for boys. In this case, gender equality enters a murky, impassioned area in which medicine, religion, culture, industry, sexuality, language and a bit of craziness collide over the most common type of surgery in America (56 percent of male infants were circumcised in 2006 in the United States, the only Western industrialized country to routinely practice circumcision).


It is a sensitive issue. Pun absolutely intended.


* * *


How intactivists define circumcision: a cruel, traumatic and unnecessary surgery (the American Academy of Pediatrics says the benefits are not sufficient enough to recommend the procedure) that causes enduring sexual and psychological injury to a helpless infant who can't give his consent.


How much of the medical community defines circumcision: a simple, nearly painless operation that removes an obsolete part of the body that can increase a man's susceptibility to infections and sexually transmitted diseases (circumcision reduces the risk of getting HIV by 60 percent, studies show).


How religion defines circumcision: as a covenant with God, as conveyed to Abraham.


It's a lopsided fight, but each side has doctors and lawyers. Each side has data. Each accuses the other of denial. One side is labeled as a bunch of baby-cutting sex criminals. The other is labeled as sex-obsessed, fanatical loonies who are duping the public.


"We don't want to understand this," says Van Lewis, who has protested infant circumcision in Tallahassee since the '70s and helped make Florida one of 16 states that no longer publicly fund circumcision. "We're living in denial as a nation. Of what we've done to ourselves."


"The anti-circs have a lot to answer for," Brian J. Morris, professor of molecular medical sciences at the University of Sydney, writes in an e-mail. "Only deception by their propaganda leads some gullible men into believing that their sexual problems have something to do with their circumcision as an infant. This is just not true. . . . Most are just ignorant do-gooders with a misplaced sence of political correctness, who get sucked into these organizations by believing the rubbish posted on their websites."


The arguments touch on human rights, bodily integrity and public health. Strong emotions are just the tip of the issue.


* * *

The rally departs from the White House about 2 p.m., headed toward Pennsylvania Avenue, on the breezy walk to the Capitol. The 50 people include the only man to ever file a lawsuit over a medically successful circumcision (and win), the woman who saw him on "Good Morning America" and later became his wife and joined the crusade, and a guy from Chicago who mass-produces (in his basement) an apparatus that he says allows men to grow back foreskin. He says he's sold 15,000 of the devices over the past five years. Men want to reclaim what was taken from them, he says, and they will pay $16 to $60 a pop to feel whole.


This is the 16th annual march. Numbers are down this year (dang economy), but everyone still seems to be from a different anti-circumcision group. And they will talk your ear off. Spend some time with intactivists and you will hear how circumcision is responsible for, among other things, the oppression of women, sexual disharmony, deforestation, militarization, the rise and fall of empires and the invasion of foreign lands for oil.


You will also hear some sensible things about condoms and cost-effectiveness and the pain of men who say they are struggling with the emotional and physical effects of circumcision. Then there's Soraya Miré, a speaker and activist who endured female genital mutilation in her native Somalia when she was 13. After witnessing a male circumcision in the United States, she broadened her message to include both genders.


"I understand women's circumcision is more severe but, to me, pain is pain," says Miré, who lives in Los Angeles and doesn't believe anesthesia for circumcision makes a difference.


A young guy sticks his buzzed head out of a white minivan as the marchers pass through a crosswalk on Pennsylvania.


"Circumcision increases sensation!" he shouts, in response to one of the protest signs.


"No, it causes premature ejaculation!" says Marilyn Milos, a former nurse and founder of the National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers.


"That's never happened to me!" the guy yells back.


"Yeah, right!"


And everyone laughs. There seems to be a sense of humor about this, after all.


Next, the march passes a cluster of security guards in sunglasses.


"You know circumcision started in the 1800s to stop our boys from masturbating," announces David Wilson, who lives in Cocoa Beach, Fla., and is the director of the Stop Infant Circumcision Society.


"I'm blind," says a security guard, and the marchers discuss whether that's a poor, ignorant joke or a great, subversive joke.


* * *


There is, of course, a serious, disturbing side to this. Leading the pack are two 21-year-olds, Jason Siegel and Zachary Levi Balakoff, who are on Day 3 of a hunger strike. They say they won't eat until genital mutilation is exposed. Go ahead, ask them why. They'll tell you, for many minutes, about the "entire realms of exquisite feeling" they are missing by not having foreskins and the corresponding nerves. The "giant monstrosity" of circumcision "envelops" their entire lives.


"If we have to die, then that's what's necessary," Balakoff says. They say they'll sit in front of the Capitol until they starve.


The other marchers just want people to keep the clamps and knives away from infants. They just want society to respect the bodies of everyone, with no disrespect to any religion. They just want men to know what they're missing, so maybe they won't choose to do the same to their sons. They say their message is reaching a wider audience. Circumcision rates are way down from their peak of 85 percent in 1965. The foundation Intact America started six months ago to direct the message to the mainstream. The goal is a male genital mutilation bill.


The march nears the Capitol. An open-air trolley packed with tourists trundles past the signs. The tourists can't help but look. The guide's voice is audible over the speakers as the trolley rolls by.


"You know what? This is America," the guide says, and it's hard to tell if she means it as a celebration or an excuse.


Source: The Washington Post





Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuade


December 20, 2008


In Osun, controversy trails move by House of Assembly to outlaw tribal marks, circumcision


By Tunde Odesola


When did it become an offence for parents to circumcise their children? That is the question many parents in Osun State may soon be asking law enforcement agents if the state government put teeth into the Child Rights Act recently passed by the House of Assembly. Under the law, no parent or guardian has the right to “tattoo or make a skin mark on a child. A person who tattoos or makes a skin mark on a child commits an offence under this Law and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding five thousand naira or imprisonment for a term not exceeding one month or to both such fine and imprisonment.”


Skin mark, in the eye of this law, means any form of genital mutilation or facial mark. But religion appears the biggest challenge of this law.


Logic and the rights of the child appear to play little part in determining the acceptability of genital mutilation in our society. Article 24(3) of the United Nations convention on the rights of the child commits all ratifying states to taking all effective and appropriate measures with a view to abolishing traditional practices prejudicial to the health of children.” And article 19(1) says, “States shall take all appropriate legislative administrative social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse.”


Anti-circumcision exponents, Y Hofvander and J Smith, in their respective works against circumcision, contend that it cannot be in the best interest of a child to be subjected, without its consent, to an irreversible surgical procedure, often without anesthetic.


In the US and UK, female genital mutilation is expressively barred by law but the same cannot be said of male circumcision which is approved if the two parents consent on religious or cultural grounds.


Among some ethnic groups, an individual receives his or her first marks at the age of 14, signifying transition from childhood to adulthood.


Commenting on circumcision and facial marks for children, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade, threw his weight behind the abolition of the age-long practice, saying it has outlived its usefulness. The traditional ruler of Ile-Ife, which is widely held as the cradle of the Yoruba traditional and cultural practices, held that practices that were harmful or capable of inflicting pain on people should be expunged. Sijuwade, who spoke through his Media Executive, Chief Funmi Olorunnisola, recalled that facial marks were basically used for identification purposes, adding that emerging trends in the 21st Century had evolved modern means of identification.


But world acclaimed Ifa priest and Awise of Osogbo, Chief Yemi Elebuibon, disagrees with the opponents of circumcision and facial marks. He said, “Tattoo is a form of identification and beautification practised by Europeans, Australians and Americans. It is unfortunate that western values have continued to erode our tradition and culture. It smacks of inferiority complex to canvass abolition of facial marks or circumcision. What government should do is ensure the use of hygienic needles and maintain best practice during the act of facial mark or circumcision. Facial marks are rooted in the history and socio-cultural heritage of our people. We should not forget our history in order for us not to go astray. Panegyrics extolling facial marks are fast dying. The whites still hold on to their tradition and culture.”


A frontline traditional ruler in Osun State, the Owa of Igbajo, Oba Olufemi Fasade, said the Child Right Act would be put to the test in the law courts by parents and guardians. According to the Owa, parental discretion, rather than law, should be employed in determining male circumcision, noting that the art of facial marks was gradually dying a natural death.


He said, “Culture differs from clime to clime. For instance, the burial of kings has its rites; if a government enacts a law to prohibit the rites associated with burial of kings, it might fail because people have their cultural differences and leanings regarding this matter. Facial mark art is dying a natural death because people no longer feel the need for it. Traditional circumcisers could seek legal protection for their profession by challenging the Act if they believe that their trade is under threat.”


The Oludo of Ido-Osun community in Osun State, Oba Aderemi Adedapo, said facial marks were used in the slave trade era to distinguish slaves from freeborn. He said, “Health and economic developments have rendered some traditional and cultural practices ineffectual. Polygamy, which was rife in those days, is fast going out of fashion even among traditional rulers. Polygamy was rife because of agrarian farming practices. People nowadays investigate genotypes before they get married. People ate any type of food with their bare hands, but all these are fast changing. Fingerprints and holograms are examples of modern day identification.@


A US-based Nigerian medical doctor, Yemi Oladimeji, who owns five dialysis centres in Maryland, USA, said, “There are short term risks of bleeding and infection associated with any surgical procedure. Longer term potential complications include pain on erection, penile disfigurement, and psychological problems. A recent report shows that the non-circumcised adult penis is more sensitive than the circumcised penis, largely because the five most sensitive areas in the male organ are removed during circumcision. This implies a reduction in future sexual sensitivity for circumcised adults. Far from being a harmless traditional practice, circumcision damages young boys.”


Oladimeji said renowned researchers and crusaders against circumcision such as Williams Kaplia, Peterson S, and Sorrells M, in their various works, contend that male child circumcision has continued unchecked throughout the world.


The kidney expert said circumcision phenomenon was a direct tussle between the primacy of parental religious conviction and the primacy of the human rights of the child, the preservation of its bodily integrity, and its right to self determination. Debunking the insinuations that circumcision prevents penile cancer, masturbation, blindness and insanity, Oladimeji said the claims relate to adult sexual behaviour and not genital anatomy or best interest of a child.


“There may be a case that male circumcision reduces HIV risk in sexually active adults, but the decision about whether to have this procedure should be left until the person is old enough to make his own informed healthcare choices,” Oladimeji contended.


The President, Association of Resident Doctors, Ladoke Akintola University Teaching Hospital, Osogbo. Dr Mobolaji Olaoye, said traditional practices like circumcision and facial marks could cause children to bleed to death. “It is high risk to give facial marks or scarify babies, because they could easily bleed to death,” he said.


A nurse in LAUTECH, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said several cases of infection in children resulted from scarification and circumcision, adding that the act disfigures rather that beautifies.


A Muslim parent, who spoke with our correspondent, said, “I have facial marks but I didn’t give my five children any facial marks because facial marks have outlived their usefulness.”


Predicting that Christian parents will defy the law against male circumcision, a pastor of one of the pentecostal churches in Osogbo, Dr Soji Olabisi, said, “The law against male circumcision is a law against God’s commandment. True Christians will resist the law.”


Will Christians and Muslims in the state bow to temporal law, in the face of God’s injunction to circumcise the male child on the eighth day? Time will tell.



Source: Punch






November 21, 2008


Furor over Proposed Ban of Circumcision in Denmark


Jews and Muslims in Denmark are in an uproar about a bill to ban circumcision for boys under the age of 15, according to Yediot Ahronot. The country's National Council for Children and Ethics Council have both endorsed the proposal and only the parliament's medical committee can prevent it from being heard.


The National Council for Children argued that, "Circumcision is the irreversible damage to a child's body before he is given the chance to object." It also said the ban was a matter of equality, in the wake of a five-year-old ban on female circumscion.


Denmark's Chief Rabbi Bent Lexner – who is also a certified mohel (circumciser) in the community – told Yediot Ahronot, "The comparison between circumcision and the intentional mutilation of the female sex organ in certain societies is simply complete nonsense." He added, "If the law forbidding circumcision is ever passed in Denmark, Jews will have to leave the place they have been living in for hundreds of years."


Judaism specifies circumcsion when a boy is eight days old, unless medically dictated otherwise. Islam does not specify a date, but allows it through puberty.


Source: Israel National News






November 18, 2008


Politicians eyeing circumcision ban


Several parliamentary parties are considering creating legislation that would spare all children from circumcision - not just girls


A proposal to ban circumcision for boys may be on its way to parliament after intense discussions by MPs over the past week, reports Kristeligt Dagblad newspaper.


Although circumcision of girls was outlawed in response to the practice being common among immigrants from some Muslim countries, boys may still be circumcised if a certified physician is present.


Jewish traditions calls for the circumcision of newborn boys, and many Muslims and Christians support the practice as well. But both the Ethics Council and the National Council for Children have recently criticised the practice, stating that a boy should be able to decide for himself if he wants the procedure performed when he reaches the age of 15 - the legal age in Denmark for a child to have sole jurisdiction over his own body.


While the Social Democrats, Red-Green Alliance and Liberal Alliance have come out in support of a ban, the Danish People's Party called it 'tyranny'.


'It's completely ridiculous to compare the circumcision of girls - which is a barbaric mutilation - with that of boys, where it's just the removal of a skin flap,' said the party's Jesper Langballe.


But the party's own health spokeswoman, Liselott Brixt, said she supports a ban.


'A lot of parents want it done to their children because they themselves had it done. But we're living in the present and it isn't fair to expose healthy children to religious circumcision.'


Medical wisdom is mixed on the supposed benefits of male circumcision, some studies claiming it prevents disease while others indicate normal hygiene procedures sufficiently negate the need for the practice.


The American Academy of Pediatrics does not support male circumcision, indicating any health advantages from it are minimal.


Source: The Copenhagen Post






October 6, 2008


Supreme court turns away Oregon circumcision case


The U.S. Supreme Court today declined to take up an Oregon dispute between a father who wants to circumcise his 13-year-old son against the wishes of the boy's mother.


The case now goes back to an Oregon trial judge to determine whether the boy wants to undergo the procedure.


James Boldt, a former Southern Oregon resident who converted to Judaism, says his son wants to be circumcised for religious reasons.


Lia Boldt claims her son is afraid to tell his father that he does not want to undergo the procedure.

The Boldts married in the early 1990s. She filed for divorce in 1998.


The boy initially lived with his mother, but the father later gained custody. James Boldt started studying Judaism in 1999 and eventually converted.


James Boldt claims that as the custodial parent he has a constitutional right to raise his son in his religion.


The Oregon Supreme Court earlier this year did not rule on the substance of the dispute, but said the trial judge needed to determine the boy's wishes before deciding which parent to side with.


-- Ashbel S. (Tony) Green;


Source: The Oregonian








February 6, 2008


Gaston County Father Charged with Child Abuse, Circumcision


NORTH CAROLINA - A Gaston County man, who is the father of a dozen kids by two different women, is now facing even more child abuse charges in Caldwell County.


Last week, Johnny Marlowe pleaded no contest to assaulting his wife and neglecting all 12 kids.

WBTV's Michael Handy found out the latest charges came after Marlowe was accused of circumcising two of his sons.

Johnny Marlowe remains in the Gaston County jail tonight, but he could be released within the next few weeks. Either way, his legal troubles are far from over now that he's facing felony child abuse charges in Caldwell County.


"Instead of doing this, could we just give me the maximum and let it go," asked Marlowe at his most recent court appearance.


He pleaded no contest to more than a dozen counts of child neglect and one count of assaulting his wife. "I'd rather just take the maximum and let it go," he said to the judge.


Marlowe made it clear he wanted the whole mess behind him as quickly as possible and his wife Amber was barely able to speak.


She tried to tell the judge that her husband was married to another women at the same time and they all lived together in a very small house.


It is hard to imagine three adults and 12 kids living in the house, but police say that's nothing compared to what happened in Caldwell County.


Marlowe and his two wives lived in Lenoir for several years and during that time Amber says he delivered and then circumcised two of his youngest sons.


Police reports indicate that Marlowe used a utility knife and one of the boys even bled extensively.


The question everyone is asking is, what could motivate a father to deliver and circumcise his own sons?


Well Marlowe says it all started back in 2004 at a Pennsylvania hospital. Doctors there tried to force Amber to have a C-section and that's something Marlowe says he strongly opposes.


Doctors at that Pennsylvania hospital even went to court to try and get legal guardianship of the Marlowe's unborn daughter.


It made national news, but the Marlowe's won the case. Amber gave birth naturally and without complications at another hospital.


Source: WBTV






January 25, 2008


Oregon court rejects circumcision case


Salem, Ore. -- The Oregon Supreme Court Friday blocked a Jewish convert from having his 12-year-old son circumcised until the boy's own wishes have been determined.


The state high court sent the case back to a trial court, The Portland Oregonian reported.


The child's parents, James and Lia Boldt, are divorced. The father argued that having custody of his son gives him the right to make medical decisions for the boy.


Lia Boldt argued that circumcision is dangerous. She said that the boy was afraid to disagree with his father.


Lower courts ruled in the father's favor. But the state supreme court found that there had been no adequate finding of what the 12-year-old actually wants.


"In our view, at age 12, M's attitude regarding circumcision, though not conclusive of the custody issue presented here, is a fact necessary to the determination," Chief Justice Paul De Muniz wrote. "Forcing M at age 12 to undergo circumcision against his will could seriously affect the relationship between M and his father, and could have a pronounced effect on father's capability to properly care for M."


Source: United Press International






December 9, 2007


Doctors back call for circumcision ban


The Australian Medical Association has backed a call for laws banning the non-essential circumcision of infant boys.


The Tasmanian Children's Commissioner, Paul Mason, says non-medical circumcision is a breach of human rights.


The AMA's Tasmanian President, Haydn Walters, says they would support a ban on the practice, except where there are medical or religious reasons.


He says there is only rarely a medical need to carry out the procedure.


"There were quite a lot of folk myths around the advantages of circumcision. They've almost all been debunked," Prof Walters said.


"There are some minimal advantages in some circumstances, particularly in some infectious diseases, but they're overwhelmingly balanced by disadvantages in other areas," he said


Source: Australian Broadcasting Corporation






September 21, 2007


Frankfurt court finds circumcision an unlawful personal injury


A regional appeals court in Frankfurt am Main found that the circumcision of an 11-year-old Muslim boy without his approval was an unlawful personal injury.


The Sept. 20 decision opened the way toward financial compensation for the boy.


The case may have repercussions for the practice of ritual circumcision in Germany by Muslims and Jews. The court suggested, in part, that it was a punishable offense to subject one's child to teasing by other children for looking different.


The boy, now 14, plans to sue his father for 10,000 Euro (about $14,000), according to a report by the German ddp press agency.


Reportedly, the boy, whose parents are divorced, was visiting his father during a vacation when his father forced the ritual circumcision. The boy lives with his mother, who had always rejected circumcision. Muslim boys are traditionally circumcised at elementary school age.


According to the court, circumcision can "be important in individual cases for the cultural-religious and physical self-image," even if there are no health disadvantages involved. So the decision about whether or not to go through with a circumcision is "a central right of a person to determine his identity and life."


The court did not give an age minimum at which their parents must seek a child's permission to perform a circumcision . The amount of damages depends, said the court, on the extent to which the boy suffered long-term physical or emotional damage, or "whether his peers would tease him for looking different."


Source: JTA






August 13, 2007


Children's commissioner wants circumcision banned


Tasmania's Children's Commissioner, Paul Mason, wants the State Government to ban the non-medical circumcision of young boys.


Female genital mutilation is illegal in Tasmania.


Mr. Mason said it's unfair that boys aren't given the same protection.


"We're discriminating against the little baby boys themselves, because they're not safe whereas the little girls are," he said.


He said circumcision is an abuse of human rights and should be outlawed until the person is old enough to decide for themselves.


"It's a permanent procedure, they get no choice."


"It's painful, even under anaesthetic," said Mr. Mason.


Mr. Mason has prepared a report on the issue for the Council of Obstetric and Paediatric Mortality and Morbidity.


The Council will forward a recommendation to the State Government.


A spokesman says the Government is not currently considering laws in relation to the issue.


Source: Australian Broadcasting Corporation






July 1, 2007


Controversial Children's Act takes effect today


The Children's Act has come into effect today


The Children's Act has come into effect today, giving children from the age of 12, among others, the right to access medical services such as HIV treatment and contraception without parental consent.


Approved by the President, these sections of the act do not require regulations before being released. Only sections that do not require regulations are enforced. They include the right for children from age 12 to get HIV treatment and contraception without consent. Twelve-year-olds can also have pregnancies terminated if they wish.


Musa Mbere, from the department of social development, says: "The reason behind that is to make sure that our law is aligned in terms of age, when children can access contraceptives. Children become sexually active at an early stage. It's a reality that we're dealing with. Secondly, children are abused at a very young age."


Younger age for sexual activity

Concern has been raised that the act might promote sexual activity at a young age. Joan van Niekerk, the national coordinator of Childline, says: "Certainly, one would question the advisability of giving children access to contraception from a very young age. But the reality is… that the age at which children become sexually active is getting younger and younger."


Under 16s may not be tested for virginity or be circumcised, unless required by tradition or religion. A child is now regarded as an adult at 18, and no longer 21. This means 18-year-olds can now get into contractual agreements without parental consent. The section dealing with corporal punishment requires regulations and the act should be complete by March next year.


Source: South African Broadcasting Corporation






April 27, 2007


Divorced parents clash over 12-year-old son's circumcision

Three-year fight - The father, a convert to Judaism, sees it as a matter of religious observance



The Oregonian

A former Medford man who converted to Judaism wants his 12-year-old son to do the same. That requires circumcision -- something the mother adamantly opposes.

The divorced couple has been battling over the issue for three years, including whether the boy wants to undergo the procedure. So far, Oregon courts have squarely sided with the father, who has custody.

That doesn't surprise Kathy T. Graham, associate dean for academic affairs at Willamette University College of Law.

"The primary custodial parent is the one that makes the decisions about religion and education and about matters of child-rearing," Graham said.

Other family law experts agree, but say the courts should at least look into the situation to make sure the surgery is in the best interests of the child.

"You're talking about not just religious instruction or whether you're going to send the child to parochial school or public school," commented Lawrence D. Gorin, a Portland attorney. "This is a matter of permanent change of bodily structure. And it's irreversible."

The mother is running out of legal options.

The Oregon Supreme Court has been briefed, but has not decided whether to take the case.

Mark Johnson, a Portland lawyer commenting on the case, said the court shouldn't let the case be decided based only on the legal papers filed on behalf of the mother and father.

"Frankly, the child should have a lawyer," Johnson said.

The Oregonian is not identifying the family members, in order to protect the privacy of the minor.

The couple married in the early 1990s. She filed for divorce in 1998.

The man started studying Judaism in 1999 and eventually converted. He now lives near Olympia . The child initially lived with his mother, but the father later gained custody.

In court papers, the father claims the boy gradually concluded that he also wanted to convert to Judaism and understood that this required circumcision.

The father also claims as the custodial parent he had a constitutional right to raise his son in his religion.

The father made an appointment for a circumcision in 2004.

The mother responded by going to court, saying her son told her that he was afraid to defy his father, but didn't want the procedure.

She asked for a hearing where she could present evidence that the circumcision would be dangerous. She also sought custody of her son.

But Jackson County Circuit Judge Rebecca G. Orf sided with the father.

"I am still of the opinion that the decision of whether or not a child has elective surgery, which this appears to be, is a call that should be made and is reserved to the custodial parent," Orf said in a hearing.

More than a million U.S. infants are circumcised each year, but circumcising adults or teens remains relatively rare.

Despite her ruling, Orf ordered the boy not be circumcised until the legal proceedings were done.

The Oregon Court of Appeals affirmed Orf's decision without an opinion, often an indication that the three-judge panel found no merit to the appeal.

The lawyer for the mother has asked the Oregon Supreme Court to take the case, and gained an ally called Doctors Opposing Circumcision, which filed a brief last week.

There is no schedule for when the court will decide whether to review the case.

The mother's attorney declined to comment.

The father, an attorney who is representing himself, did not return a phone call seeking comment.

Oregon legal experts agree that judges generally defer to the choices of custodial parents.

"Judges traditionally have stayed away in getting involving decisions about the day-to-day upbringing of the child," said Gorin, the Portland attorney.

Still, there are limits.

"It may be that the religious belief is to engage in human sacrifice or kill animals, but we don't do that," he said.

But Julie H. McFarlane, a supervising attorney with the Portland-based Juvenile Rights Project, said that the child's consent for a medical procedure is not required until he turns 15.

"I think the dad has the legal right as the custodial parent to make those kind of religious or medical decisions," McFarlane said. "It's not much different from cosmetic surgery."

The bottom line, McFarlane said, is that "when you lose custody, you lose a lot of those things that go with custody -- deciding whether the kids go to school and the rest of the day-to-day parenting decisions."

Andy Dworkin of The Oregonian contributed to this report. Ashbel "Tony" Green: 503-221-8202;


Source: The Oregonian






April 18, 2007


Alleged circumcision injury prompts suit

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (UPI) -- A West Virginia couple has filed a medical malpractice lawsuit alleging that their son was injured during a routine circumcision procedure.

Scott and Sherry Dumire allege that their son, Hunter, was injured during a circumcision he underwent Oct. 20, 2005, The West Virginian Record reported Wednesday.


The suit -- filed April 9 in Monongalia Circuit Court -- names the West Virginia University Medical Corporation and the West Virginia University Board of Governors as defendants.


The couple alleges that due to negligence, their son was physically disfigured and has required medical care a a result of the surgery.


The newspaper said the plaintiffs are seeking compensation and all related damages, along with reimbursement for costs associated with the medical treatment their son has required.


Source: United Press International






October 24, 2006


Judge rules against boy’s circumcision


By Judy Peres, Tribune staff reporter


In a case that has been closely watched by anti-circumcision groups nationwide, a Cook County judge ruled Tuesday that the medical benefits of the procedure are not clear enough to compel a 9-year-old Northbrook boy to be circumcised against his will.

The boy's mother and her new husband had claimed the operation was necessary to prevent recurrent episodes of redness and discomfort. The boy's father sought a court order barring the circumcision, which he called an "unnecessary amputation."


The mother has sole custody, but their 2003 parenting agreement gave her ex-husband a say in non-emergency medical decisions. The Tribune is not naming the parents in order to protect the boy's privacy.

In a written opinion handed down Tuesday, Circuit Court Judge Jordan Kaplan said, "The evidence was conflicting and inconclusive as to any past infections or irritations that may have been suffered by the child.

"Moreover," he continued, "this court also finds that the medical evidence as provided by the testimony of the expert witnesses ... is inconclusive as to the medical benefits or non-benefits of circumcision as it relates to the 9-year-old child."

Kaplan said the boy, as a minor, cannot make his own medical decisions but had indicated in a written statement that he does not want to be circumcised.

"The injury to the child as a result of an unnecessary circumcision would be irreversible," Kaplan wrote, adding that his order would remain in effect until the boy turns 18 and can decide for himself whether or not he wants to undergo the procedure.

Because there are no U.S. precedents, other courts could look to this ruling in future cases, said George Hill of Doctors Opposing Circumcision.

Geoffrey Miller, a law professor at New York University, called the ruling a "significant victory" for the growing "intactivist" movement, which has argued circumcision is harmful and violates the rights of children, who can't give informed consent.

Miller conceded Tuesday's decision was "limited by the facts of the case," including the agreement that gives the father the right to be consulted on medical care. Nevertheless, he said, "The fact that a non-custodial parent was able to prevent a custodial parent from having this procedure done is a sign that courts are more receptive to arguments against circumcision than they were in past years."

The father, a 50-year-old building manager from Arlington Heights, said he was relieved by the decision and "so happy."

His lawyer, Alan Toback, said, "We always thought it was not in the child's best interest to have a circumcision at age 9 that was not medically necessary, and the judge agreed."

The mother was not in court Tuesday, and her lawyer, Tracy Rizzo, also was not there because of the death of her father, famed Chicago private investigator Ernie Rizzo. The mother was represented instead by Gail O'Connor, who said, "We're disappointed, of course, but we will abide by the injunction."

Circumcision, in which the foreskin of the penis is surgically removed, usually before a newborn leaves the hospital, was extremely common in the U.S. during the last century. But the percentage of U.S. babies being circumcised has gone from an estimated 90 percent in 1970 to about 55 percent today. In most other countries, circumcision is performed only for religious reasons.

The boy, who never appeared in court, was represented by attorney David Pasulka, who recommended against circumcision at this time.

The eight-month dispute took some nasty turns. Rizzo charged that the father did not care about the boy's health but feared his ex-wife and her new husband were trying to convert the boy to Judaism.

The father's attorneys hinted that the mother's aim was to spite her ex-husband and please her current husband, who is Jewish.

The boy's stepfather and stepbrother are both circumcised, while the biological parents are Catholic immigrants from Eastern European countries where circumcision is rare.

But Kaplan said he did not address "issues of ethnicity or religious beliefs relative to circumcision" because the parents did not raise them in their legal pleadings.

Dan Strandjord, a self-proclaimed "intactivist" who attended every hearing in the case, was elated Tuesday. "I believe this is a human rights issue," said Strandjord.


Source: Chicago Tribune, Chicago, Illinois






October 17, 2006

Germany fines man for initiation circumcision

Dusseldorf - A 77-year-old Turkish national who performed ritual circumcisions on seven boys was convicted Tuesday in Germany of causing dangerous bodily harm and fined €2 100 (about R20 000).

Prosecutors told the state court in Dusseldorf that circumcision was only allowed in Germany for medical reasons and could only be performed by surgeons. Traditional Turkish Muslims practise circumcision on boys aged 6 to 11 as a manhood initiation ritual.

The accused did not attend the trial, a re-hearing in an appeal court, two years after he had been fined the same amount.

At the original trial, the accused agreed he had performed the circumcisions at the request of parents in several cities. Police who seized the surgical instruments at his home described them as dirty and university scientists said he did not follow hygiene rules. - Sapa-dpa


Source: Independent Online - Cape Town, South Africa






August 7, 2006

Court rules circumcision of four-year-old boy illegal

Legal status of nonmedical procedure remains murky

Finland’s first court ruling on male child circumcision was handed down by a Finnish court on Friday. A Muslim mother faced charges of assault in Tampere District Court for having her four-year-old son circumcised. The incident was reported to the police by the boy’s father, who had not been consulted. The court found that the mother’s action was illegal. However, it did not assign any punishment. The mother defended her action by saying that she thought that circumcisions performed by doctors were legal in Finland. The case will now go to the Court of Appeals.

The mother said that the procedure is part of the family’s religion and cultural heritage. The court found that interfering with personal inviolability could be allowed only in cases specifically permitted by law. "There is a perception in Finland that only girls’ circumcisions are banned by law. There is no specific legislation about them; both types are illegal under the same criminal law. After all, in both procedures, part of healthy genitalia is removed without medical foundation, or competent consent", says local prosecutor Jouko Nurminen. Nurminen says that the "misconception" may have arisen in connection with the drafting of the new constitution, at which time only the circumcision of girls was part of the debate. In its decision, the court notes that not even a long religious tradition justifies protecting the bodily inviolability of boys to a lesser degree than that of girls.

A working group of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health proposed a few years ago that circumcisions performed under medical supervision in hospitals should be allowed. The working group wanted to avoid complications from operations performed at home, and to reduce the suffering of the child.

Legislation is somewhat vague on the matter, and practice varies in Finland. For instance, a report drafted by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health in 2004 notes that male circumcision is permitted in all countries. "There is no legislation on male circumcision, but there is also no prohibition. The operations have been performed on the basis of common law", says Riitta-Maija Jouttimäki, a lawyer for the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health.


Source: Helsingin Sanomat - Helsinki, Finland





October 12, 2005

Circumcision a 'violation of child's rights'

By Janine Stephen

A group of men caused a stir in parliament on Tuesday by calling for an end to all circumcision of baby boys - or anyone under 18 years old.

The National Organisation of Circumcision Information Resource Centres South Africa (NOCIRC-SA) is fighting for boys' rights to retain their foreskins. They say that circumcision without consent is a "violation of a child's rights".

They are supported by a number of other local and international organisations, including the International Coalition of Genital Integrity, Doctors Opposing Circumcision and the National Organisation of Restoring Men (NORM).

The select committee on social development was holding public hearings into the Children's Bill, which outlaws female genital mutilation and virginity testing.

Under the proposed Bill, which has already been approved by the national Assembly, anyone who practises female genital mutilation or virginity testing is guilty of an offence and can be imprisoned for up to 10 years.

"Male circumcision should not be isolated from female circumcision," Dean Ferris of NOCIRC said.

This is unlikely to go down well with Jewish, Islamic and Xhosa groups, all of which see circumcision as an essential part of their cultures.

According to a Children's Institute discussion paper on the Children's Bill, if a child is old enough to give consent, then the boy has the right to say no. Forcing a child to be circumcised is a criminal offence. The bill is silent on the age for consent.

However, circumcising baby boys who are too young to give consent, is not outlawed.

A written statement submitted to the select committee by NORM states that: "As children, we were unable to voice our objections to halt these ritual genital mutilations that were carried out on us in hospitals and beyond.

"We are now able as adults to loudly and unreservedly condemn such sexual abuse."

Ferris said that the South African Medical Association has said that there is no need for circumcision from a medical point of view.

"It's a human issue," said paediatrician Dr Daniel Sidler. "It's about the integrity of the genitals. We're fiddling with normal and healthy genitals."


Source: Independent Online - Cape Town, South Africa






May 3, 2005

Muslim accused of assaulting son through circumcision

By James Tapsfield, PA

A Muslim “assaulted” his five-year-old son by having him circumcised against his mother’s wishes, a court heard today.

The father is alleged to have secretly taken the boy to a doctor in north London for the procedure.

Lewes Crown Court heard he then told the mother – an English Christian – what had happened and said: “There is nothing you can do.”

The 27-year-old man – who lives in Crawley, West Sussex, but cannot be named for legal reasons – denies committing an assault occasioning actual bodily harm in August 2003.

Irena Ray-Crosby, prosecuting, told the court today that the parents had been involved in a three-month relationship and the mother realised she was pregnant after they broke up.

Once the defendant, who is of Moroccan origin, realised the child was his he began raising the issue of circumcision in line with his religious beliefs.

“He told (the mother) he wanted to have the boy circumcised and she said she would agree with that only for medical reasons and never for religious ones.”

The court heard that in August 2003 – shortly after the boy’s fifth birthday – he went to stay with his father.

The defendant telephoned the mother and asked her to come out of her house to talk to him, at which point he told her about the circumcision.

According to Ms Ray-Crosby, the mother accused him of assaulting their son, and the defendant responded: “There’s nothing you can do. I’ve looked into it and it’s perfectly legal.”

He later sent her a text message saying she should give the boy salty baths in order to help him heal.

The court heard that the father had been “under pressure” from fellow Muslims to get his son circumcised, and paid £100 in cash for the procedure to be carried out.

Ms Ray-Crosby said the defendant had admitted when arrested and interviewed by police that he had not told the mother in advance of his plans. She added that there had been no medical reason why the boy needed to be circumcised.

“This is not a case that is anti-Islam or anti-any other faith. It’s simply about a boy who was circumcised without his mother’s consent.”

Ms Ray-Crosby said the father had never applied for legal parental responsibility, and therefore could not have provided proper consent for the operation to take place.


Source: - Edinburgh, Scotland






March 24, 2005


Lawsuit claims circumcision botched


STAMFORD, Conn. -- An Oxford couple on Wednesday sued a doctor who they say partially amputated their son's penis during a circumcision at St. Vincent's Hospital in Bridgeport.


Immediately after his injury last June, the day-old boy was transferred to Yale-New Haven Hospital where he underwent reconstructive surgery.


"We are bringing this case because we already know this baby has suffered a horrible, life-altering physical injury, but we are still learning about the long term ramifications of the injury," said Ernest Teitell, one of the boy's attorneys. "What happened will profoundly affect him as he grows older."


Circumcision, often performed for religious reasons, involves removing foreskin from the penis. The American Academy of Pediatrics says most complications from the procedure, such as bleeding, are usually minor.


Robin Biondo, the boy's mother, said Dr. Daniel S. Gottschall cut off 40 percent of the tip of her son's penis.


"It was a very difficult thing to go through to see your new born child laying there and wondering how much pain he was in and how this is going to affect him," Biondo said.


In 2001, a jury in California awarded $1.42 million to a 7-year-old boy for a botched circumcision. In another case, the late David Reimer, a Canadian, was born as a boy but raised as a girl after a botched circumcision.


The lawsuit, filed in Bridgeport Superior Court, seeks unspecified damages from Dr. Gottschall, who performed the surgery last June, and his medical and surgical group, Alliance for Women's Health.


Gottschall said he has performed more than 1,000 circumcisions without a problem.


"There was a slight tip that was removed, recognized and repaired," Gottschall said. "We believe there was a congenital deformity of the penis that made the injury more likely. Because of my diligence, the boy had the repair that was necessary."


The boy, now nine months old, spent about 10 days in the hospital, according to his mother.


"We were always told it was uncharted territory because they had never seen anything like this before," Biondo said.


The boy's attorneys said the lawsuit was brought in part "because the family wants to make sure something this awful doesn't happen to another child when their parents decide to have them undergo this same procedure."


Source: The Advocate - Stamford, Connecticut


(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)






February 2, 2005


Baby dies after allegedly being infected with herpes during circumcision


NEW YORK, NY - City health officials are trying to stop a Rockland County rabbi from performing circumcisions, after a baby boy died from herpes he allegedly contracted from the rabbi during a circumcision.


The city Department of Health said Wednesday it is seeking a permanent injunction against Rabbi Yitzhok Fischer. The DOH says Fischer uses an ancient religious custom of using his mouth to suck the infant's blood after cutting the foreskin.


According to court papers filed in Manhattan, a 3-week-old boy died from herpes 10 days after he and his twin brother were circumcised by Fischer in October. The boy’s twin was also infected with the virus.

In addition, a Staten Island boy was also reportedly infected with herpes after a circumcision performed by Fischer in 2003.


DOH officials say Fischer did not comply with an order given in November to stop performing circumcisions and to have his blood tested.


“Infants, particularly under the age of six months, are highly susceptible to infections. They do not have a functioning immune system," said Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Frieden.


Fischer's attorney says his client is cooperating with the city in an effort to determine what he says is “the true source” of the infection.


Source: NY1 News - New York, NY






December 15, 2004



Man sentenced to 36 months for circumcision attempt

RIDGEFIELD, Wash. - A Clark County father of nine has been sentenced to 36 months in prison after trying to circumcise his eight-year-old son with a knife. A jury found Edwin Baxter guilty of assault last week. The judge formally sentenced him today.

In September, Baxter used a three-inch serrated hunting knife but called 9-1-1 when his son's bleeding would not stop. The boy had to get several stitches.

The Ridgefield, Washington, man says he was inspired to do the circumcision after reading the Bible. He says he did not mean to hurt his son.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


Source: KATU 2 News - Portland, Oregon







December 9, 2004


Father convicted in circumcision attempt

By Stephanie Rice, Columbian staff writer

RIDGEFIELD, WASH. - A jury deliberated 40 minutes Tuesday before convicting a Ridgefield man of assault for attempting to circumcise his 8-year-old.

Edwin B. Baxter, 33, was polite after the verdict as he was handcuffed to be taken back to the Clark County Jail. He thanked his attorney and the prosecutor, who last week offered Baxter a plea deal that would've given the father of nine credit for the three months spent in custody and released him from jail. He declined.

Now, Baxter faces up to three years and five months in prison.

A truck driver and fundamentalist Christian who wears a long beard, Baxter dressed in flannel shirts and work boots during his two-day trial and had a Bible with him in court. He did not testify before the jury of seven men and five women.

He did, however, make a statement to Judge James Rulli for the purpose of preserving his right to appeal on the grounds Rulli did not allow him to use his faith as a defense.

Baxter said he decided to circumcise his 8-year-old, the eldest of his four boys, on Sept. 3 after he read in the Old Testament that males should undergo the procedure.

"I had no reason to think I would be in violation of any of God's laws," Baxter said.

"I felt it was an act of obedience."

He said he was only following in the footsteps of Abraham, Isaac and "every other godly man."

He had his son lay on towels in what was described by witnesses as a dirty bathtub. He used a hunting knife to attempt the procedure, but called 911 when his son began bleeding profusely.

"It breaks my heart to think that this state would think of me as a child abuser," Baxter said.

Senior Deputy Prosecutor Kim Farr asked whether the circumcision would have been equally symbolic if it had been performed by a doctor in a sterile environment.

"I have no reason to think otherwise," Baxter said.

Farr said after the trial that Baxter's son was not circumcised at birth because none of the Baxter children have been born in hospitals. He said the family used a van outside their Ridgefield home as a birthing place.

Baxter's 30-year-old wife, Tammy, is said to be pregnant with her 10th child.

She and the children have not been found by law enforcement or investigators from the state Department of Children and Family Services, who had been seeking them in connection with the trial.

After the verdict, Judge Rulli dismissed arrest warrants for Tammy Baxter and the victim.

A urologist who treated the victim said he has not seen the boy to know if his wound has healed.

Dr. Douglas Masson said he closed the boy's wound, rather than complete the circumcision, to let it heal and to minimize the chance of infection.

However, scar tissue could require that the boy be circumcised in the future, he said.

Stephanie Rice covers the courts. She can be reached at 360-759-8004 or


Previously: Edwin B. Baxter of Ridgefield was arrested Sept. 3 on suspicion of attempting to circumcise his 8-year-old.

What's new: A jury Tuesday convicted Baxter of second-degree assault of a child.

What's next: He will be sentenced Dec. 15.

Source: The Columbian - Vancouver, WA







October 4, 2004



Ayaan Hirsi Ali


Dutch MP wants ban on male circumcision


HILVERSUM, THE NETHERLANDS - A Dutch Member of Parliament, Hirsi Ali, has told a Dutch television programme that the government should consider making the circumcision of boys an offence. The MP, who is often in the news for her controversial views on integration, says circumcision can have long-term damaging effects.


The operation, in which the foreskin of the penis is removed, is carried out on tens of thousands of Islamic and Jewish boys in the Netherlands each year for religious reasons. The Dutch government recently outlawed female circumcision.

Source: Radio Netherlands - Hilversum, The Netherlands






September 8, 2004


Father charged with assault for trying to circumcise son


RIDGEFIELD, WASH. - A Ridgefield, Washington, man faces assault charges after trying to circumcise his eight-year-old son with a kitchen knife.


The boy had to get several stitches, after his father called 911 because the child was bleeding so much.


Thirty-three-year-old Edwin Baxter appeared in Clark County Court yesterday. Baxter could get ten years in prison.


Baxter says he was inspired to do the circumcision after reading the Bible.


Baxter lives with his wife and nine children in a two bedroom rental home. Baxter was once convicted of domestic violence in 1993.


(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


Source: KATU 2 News - Portland, Oregon






August 10, 2004


Circumcision completed, despite mom's opposition


By Cherryh Cluckey, The Examiner


Three-year-old Ethan Azar is recovering well from his recent circumcision, said his father, Ray Jagoda.


"It was quick and done under anesthesia," he said.


A doctor performed the procedure last week despite opposition from the boy's mother.


Camille Azar, Independence, was denied an order to protect a child from medical harm from the Jackson County Circuit Court several weeks ago and was then denied a writ of prohibition from the Court of Appeals.


She petitioned the Missouri Supreme Court to intervene in July. The court was to determine whether the circuit court should listen to the case instead of dismissing it.


However, Jagoda went ahead with the surgery.


"It was for religious reasons and we found it was medically necessary," he said. "...Or Ethan would have had future problems if we didn't do it."


Camille Azar disagreed.


"That's not true," she said. "Saying it was medically justified is a fabrication to justify what he did."


Jagoda would not reveal where the surgery was done or who performed it, conditions the doctor had requested.


Camille Azar said she is angry for her son.


"He will not be able to function normally the way nature intended," she said. "There were experts who tried to talk (to Jagoda about the negative side of circumcision). Two were even world experts, but he refused."


Jagoda said he was under no legal obligation to wait for the circumcision.


"I just had to find someone who had not been intimidated by Camille," he said.


Jackson County Circuit Judge Christine Sill-Rogers gave Jagoda full custody of Ethan in May; Azar gets supervised visits. They had been sharing custody, but Azar previously had full custody.


Source: The Examiner - Independence, Missouri






July 15, 2004


Mother seeks high court order to block circumcision

By Steve Rock, The Kansas City Star


Kansas City, MO - A Lee's Summit woman is asking the Missouri Supreme Court to prevent the “unneeded and irreparable'' circumcision of her almost 3-year-old son.


The attorney for Camille Azar filed a petition for a writ of prohibition Wednesday with the Supreme Court, effectively asking the state's highest court to reverse a decision made in Jackson County Circuit Court. Ultimately, Azar hopes to stop Ray Jagoda, the child's father, from having their son circumcised.


The child turns 3 in September and, according to the petition, is “aware of his own body.”


“The potential for psychological harm from non-infant circumcisions is well established and great,” the petition states.


Michael Whitsitt, the attorney for Jagoda, said Wednesday he had no comment about the latest development in the case.


Jagoda and Azar never married, and Jackson County Circuit Judge Christine Sill-Rogers granted full custody to Jagoda earlier this year. Azar, who was the child's primary caregiver until he was about 29 months old, has appealed that ruling.


Her immediate concern, she said Wednesday, is preventing a circumcision that she deems unnecessary and potentially harmful. According to the petition filed with the Supreme Court, “Mr. Jagoda has indicated that he is determined to circumcise the child immediately, with or without a doctor, with or without anesthesia.”


Azar said Wednesday that, according to studies she has read and experts she has spoken with, her son's age might be the worst for a child to be circumcised.


“This is the most frightening age and damaging age psychologically,” she said. “I have to protect him.


“He knows his body very well. He's aware enough to understand what his body is like now but not able to understand why part of that would be taken away. Kids this age see the operation as a punishment, a mutilation, a castration.”


Azar said she is generally opposed to the idea of circumcision. If her son were old enough to decide for himself, she said, she wouldn't object.


So she's taking her fight to the state's highest court.


According to legal rules, Whitsitt has 10 days to file suggestions and oppositions.


“Circumcision … would be the removal of perfectly healthy tissue from a person not legally competent to object,” the petition states. “Circumcision is non-reversible amputation. It is the permanent destruction of living, non-threatening, sensitive tissue.”


Source: Kansas City Star - Kansas City, Missouri







Children, circumcision

Foto: DR, © DR


December 4, 2003


Denmark: National Council for Children calls for ban on male circumcision


The National Council for Children has called on lawmakers to make male circumcision illegal.

While media reports of female circumcision in Denmark have caused a public outcry and prompted lawmakers to amend existing legislation, this unacceptable practice is still a lot less common than the circumcision of boys, the chairman of the council told Danish media this morning.


The chairman is now calling on legislators to ban male circumcision for the benefit of the children.


Source: DR Nyheder Online - Denmark




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