Germany approves bill to protect male circumcision

December 12, 2012 by Frank Jordans
In this Oct. 29, 2012 file picture mohel doctor Yacov Gassinovitch, center, is surround by other Rabbis and relatives as he holds eight days old Jonathan during the boy's circumcision at synagogue in Berlin. German Parliament is expected to vote on legislation clarifying the legality of infant male circumcision for religious reasons. The government drew up the legislation after a court in June ruled the practice could amount to criminal bodily harm—prompting outrage in Germany's Jewish and Muslim communities. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

(AP)—German lawmakers approved a bill Wednesday that explicitly permits male infant circumcision, ending months of legal uncertainty after a court ruling that the practice amounts to bodily harm led to an outcry from Jewish and Muslim groups.

Germany's government moved swiftly to draft a law following the Cologne regional court decision in June. The ruling didn't amount to a ban but raised fears of possible prosecutions.

The head of Germany's main Jewish group expressed relief at the vote, which passed with 434 lawmakers in favor, 100 against and 46 abstaining.

"The circumcision law finally restores legal certainty," said Dieter Graumann, the head of Germany's Central Council of Jews. "What's important for us is the political message of this law, which is that Jewish and Muslim life is still welcome here."

Restrictions on religiously motivated circumcision would have been particularly sensitive in Germany because of the country's persecution of Jews and other minorities during the Nazi period.

Proponents of the law, including Chancellor Angela Merkel, noted that failure to protect circumcision would have risked making Germany the only country in the world to ban a practice that Jews and some Muslims consider an ancient and essential part of their religious traditions.

The new law grants parents the right to have their sons circumcised by a trained practitioner. Once the boy reaches six months of age, the procedure needs to be performed by a doctor.

Some critics of circumcision in Germany have argued that the right of the child to bodily integrity trumped a parent's right to make a decision on his behalf.

A minority of left-wing lawmakers in Parliament proposed that parents should have to wait until the boy is 14 so he can give informed consent, noting the procedure is irreversible.

Such a delay would have contravened Jewish religious law, which requires that boys are circumcised on the eighth day after birth in a ceremony seen as their entrance into a covenant with God. Muslims also usually perform the procedure early in a boy's life.

Germany, a country of some 82 million people, has a population of about 250,000 Jews and about 4 million Muslims.

Explore further: German lawmakers want circumcision ban under 14

shares

Related Stories

German lawmakers want circumcision ban under 14

November 12, 2012
(AP)—Left-wing lawmakers in Germany are threatening to oppose government efforts to keep male infant circumcision legal.

German court rules religious circumcision on boys an assault

June 26, 2012
Circumcising young boys on religious grounds amounts to grievous bodily harm, a German court ruled Tuesday in a landmark decision that the Jewish community said trampled on parents' religious rights.

German doctors seek urgent action on circumcision row

July 15, 2012
German doctors are seeking an urgent clarification from the government over religious circumcision after a court ruling calling it a criminal act prompted an international outcry.

Zurich children's hospital lifts ban on circumcision

August 10, 2012
A Swiss hospital announced Friday that it has lifted a moratorium on religiously-motivated circumcisions imposed in July in the wake of a court ruling in neighbouring Germany.

German ethics committee tackles circumcision row

August 23, 2012
A senior member of Germany's ethics committee Thursday called for a compromise in a heated debate over religious circumcision after a court ruled the practice was tantamount to grievous bodily harm.

Judge orders circumcision ban off SF ballot

July 29, 2011
(AP) -- A judge on Thursday struck a measure from the city's November ballot that called for a ban on most circumcisions of male children, saying the proposed law violates the U.S. Constitution's guarantee of religious freedom ...

Recommended for you

Artificial light from digital devices lessens sleep quality

July 28, 2017
There's no doubt we love our digital devices at all hours, including after the sun goes down. Who hasn't snuggled up with a smart phone, tablet or watched their flat screen TV from the comfort of bed? A new study by researchers ...

Study finds walnuts may promote health by changing gut bacteria

July 28, 2017
Research led by Lauri Byerley, PhD, RD, Research Associate Professor of Physiology at LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine, has found that walnuts in the diet change the makeup of bacteria in the gut, which suggests ...

Could insufficient sleep be adding centimeters to your waistline?

July 27, 2017
Adults in the UK who have poor sleep patterns are more likely to be overweight and obese and have poorer metabolic health, according to a new study.

Sugar not so sweet for mental health

July 27, 2017
Sugar may be bad not only for your teeth and your waistline, but also your mental health, claimed a study Thursday that was met with scepticism by other experts.

Vitamin E-deficient embryos are cognitively impaired even after diet improves

July 27, 2017
Zebrafish deficient in vitamin E produce offspring beset by behavioral impairment and metabolic problems, new research at Oregon State University shows.

The role of dosage in assessing risk of hormone therapy for menopause

July 27, 2017
When it comes to assessing the risk of estrogen therapy for menopause, how the therapy is delivered—taking a pill versus wearing a patch on one's skin—doesn't affect risk or benefit, researchers at UCLA and elsewhere ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Mauricio
3 / 5 (2) Dec 12, 2012
non-consensual mutilation of working genital tissue, call this for its name.

If it is so holy, wait until he GROWS UP and he CAN take the DECISION himself.

I love God, I can not imagine He would be asking to mutilate my boys genitals or be pleased by the offer.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.