Oooh. A German court has ruled that not even deeply religious parents have the right to circumcise young boys on religious grounds, calling it “grievous bodily harm.”
The regional court in Cologne, western Germany, ruled that the ‘fundamental right of the child to bodily integrity outweighed the fundamental rights of the parents.’
‘The religious freedom of the parents and their right to educate their child would not be unacceptably compromised, if they were obliged to wait until the child could himself decide to be circumcised,’ the court added.
I’ve often said that if you reframed the circumcision debate so that it included any other body part – the tip of the nose, for instance, or the left earlobe, or the little fingers on both hands, or the big toes on both feet – we’d recoil in horror at the thought of it.
If we had no such practice as circumcision, and someone invented it today, the people practicing it would be shut down in a matter of days, and quickly imprisoned for … what? Torture, child abuse, practicing medicine without a license, who knows what else. And the rest of us would look on in approval.
Imagine taking your 2-year-old down for a butt-tattoo: “Grandma Loves Me!” Any parent giving permission for that procedure on a child would have ALL their children snatched out of their custody, just as a first step. And really, how is circumcision any different? Other than the fact that it’s genital mutilation, and that there’s something extra creepy in that?
Religion is not reason enough. Children are not born Jewish, or Muslim, or Christian. They’re born children, and all that other stuff is pounded into them later. It’s my view that parents are custodians of the education, health and safety of children, but that they do not own them. Not enough to order cosmetic surgery, anyway, and not for reasons that amount to, when you get right down to it, matters of social style.
‘The body of the child is irreparably and permanently changed by a circumcision,’ the court said. ‘This change contravenes the interests of the child to decide later on his religious beliefs.’
Not to mention that urinating on an open wound for days or weeks has to feel like having a blowtorch regularly applied to your hyper-sensitive newborn skin, however comfortably remote parents are from that realization … because the babies suffering it can’t tell them.
Holm Putzke, criminal law expert at the University of Passau, added something well worth saying:
Unlike many politicians, the court has not allowed itself to be scared off by charges of anti-Semitism or religious intolerance.
Hear, hear, well spoken Bruce.
Cue the predictable screams of outrage:
Within hours of the decision, Jews and Muslims – not just in Germany but from all over the world – banded together to protest what they saw as an assault on their religious freedom.
The New York-based Anti-Defamation League said circumcising newborn males was a “core religious rite of Judaism” and echoed a call by Germany’s Central Council of Jews demanding the Bundestag pass legislation protecting the religious practice.
“The decision by a district court in Cologne, Germany, to deem non-medical circumcision a crime places an intolerable burden on the free exercise of religion by Jews and also by Muslims who practice male circumcision as part of their religious faith,” Abraham Foxman, the ADL’s national director, said in a statement.
… a ban on circumcision would be a devastating blow to the future of the Jewish community.
I’m sure the various Muslim communities who practice female genital mutilation must feel the same way. Probably we should just let them do their thing, no matter how much it transgresses on the rights of the helpless girls.
A little side note from another site (emphasis added):
Recent studies published in leading medical journals have reported that circumcision has long lasting effects on the developing brain. Until recently, the myth was promulgated that infants’ nervous systems were not adequately developed to feel the pain of circumcision. The truth, with regard to the perception of pain, is that the nervous system of an infant is fully developed by the third trimester.
A recent study showed that more than 112 baby boys die each year as a result of having been circumcised, either on the table, or as a result of complications such as hemorrhage and infection attributable to the circumcision, like in this case. This is four times the number of boys killed in schoolyard shootings each year.