At the end of June, a judge in Cologne, Germany ruled that male circumcision is illegal. Not only is it illegal, but motivation behind the circumcision is of no value in this area of Germany. The judge made this ruling based on his conviction that the religious practices and beliefs of parents who do circumcise should not trump a baby or a child’s right to have bodily integrity. This ruling was handed down after a four year old Muslim child in Cologne was brought to the emergency room with severe bleeding only two days after being circumcised. The judge felt it was his responsibility to protect young boys and babies who cannot protect themselves from such an act. However, this ruling does not apply to medically indicated circumcisions.
Circumcision: A Deeply Religious Practice
Circumcision is in many religions, such as the Jewish and Muslim religions, a required and sacred act. Understandably so, this court ruling has Jews and Muslims in Germany in an uproar. One Jewish leader even went so far as to compare this ruling to the start of the Holocaust where religious freedom was completely ignored. Jewish leaders say they will continue to practice their religious beliefs, including that of circumcision. Jewish menare traditionally circumcised as babies at eight days old. Eight days is what God instructed of them in the Bible, and it has been found that at eight days of age a newborn has an intrinsic ability to clot their blood. Muslim boys are traditionally circumcised between the ages of four and twelve.
Is the Cologne Jude Right or Wrong?
Is this judge really protecting the bodily integrity of young boys in Germany, or has he crossed the line and encroached on the religious freedoms of many? One could agree with the judge and argue that when these young men reach a certain age they can make a religious decision for themselves as to whether or not to be circumcised. However, as parents we do have the right to make many decisions, religious or not, for our children until they are of a certain age.
Adding to the Heavily Debated Circumcision Topic
Circumcision has always been a widely debated global topic, and the ruling of this judge only adds fuel to the fire. Parents of boys have likely been a part of this debate in one way or another, no matter where they live. There are valid and scientific facts on each side of the debate. The World Health Organization (WHO) and the United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have stated there are medical benefits to circumcision such as lessening the likelihood of bladder infections, penile cancer and sexually transmitted diseases later in life. However, there are arguments on the other side questioning parental and religious rights to do this to children, as well as the risk of infection, emotional trauma, infringement on the child’s freedom of religion, and possible decreased sexual enjoyment later in life. One point that cannot be refuted is that this is a very emotionally charged and debated issue.
Cologne Judge’s Ruling Puts a Halt on most German Circumcisions
It is important to note that this ruling on circumcision only applies to the Cologne area of Germany. However, it has doctors and hospitals all throughout the German countryplacing a temporary ban on the practice of circumcision. Many health professionals are afraid of what this ruling means for the entire country, and therefore are not performing circumcisions until the dust settles and the ruling is either successfully appealed, or at the very least made more clear.
Will a German Circumcision Ban lead to an American Circumcision Ban?
With German doctors wondering what this means for the rest of the country outside of the area of Cologne, perhaps we should be wondering what this means for the United States and the rest of the world. Is it possible that such a ruling could eventually be handed down somewhere, or even all over, the United States? After all, many German or European trends, policies and ideas in law, medicine and government have made their way to the United States over time.
This article was written on behalf of Kramer Law Firm.