Despite the fact that this isn’t a “ban” – merely a required postponement until children are older – it hasn’t stopped the Jewish and Muslim communities declaring the measure “an affront to our basic religious and human rights.”
“This is the worst attack on Jews since the Holocaust,” declared chief rabbi of Moscow Pinchas Goldschmidt (apparently no stranger to hyperbole). “Circumcision represents the basis for belonging to the Jewish community. It has been practiced for 4,000 years and cannot be changed.”
While Europe – and Germany especially – is incredibly sensitive to accusations of discrimination and prejudice against the Jewish community, there are many who argue that this restriction should be rolled out even wider, and all elective circumcisions banned until children are old enough to make the decision for themselves.
Likewise, religious tradition relating to circumcision has been under intense scrutiny recently, especially after 11 babies in New York became infected with a life-threatening strain of herpes following circumcisions performed by ultra-Orthodox Jews. Two died and two developed brain damage following metzitzah b’peh, a ritual in which the mohel sucks blood from a circumcised infant’s penis with his mouth.
In America alone, more children die as a result of complications from circumcision than from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), but while the message “back is best” is pounded home to new parents to prevent SIDS, circumcision is still promoted by doctors as a legitimate medical “procedure” despite the risks.
What do you think? Is restricting circumcision really an affront to religious freedom? Or do the freedoms of infant boys, and the principle of “genital integrity” outweigh those considerations?