Swiss and Austrian Hospitals Suspend Non-Medically Necessary Circumcisions

Here’s a story which reports that certain Swiss and Austrian hospitals have suspended circumcision in situations where the procedure is not medically necessary.  They have taken these steps allegedly because of the legal uncertainty of circumcision after a German court held the practice to be the equivalent of a criminal assault.  That particular reason seems strange to me, since Switzerland and Austria are not under German jurisdiction.  But that’s the reason they give.  From the story:

A group of Orthodox rabbis warned on Wednesday that the ancient Jewish practice of infant male circumcision could face further restrictions in Europe after some hospitals in Austria and Switzerland suspended the procedure by citing a German court ruling that it could amount to criminal bodily harm.

Last month’s verdict by a regional court in Cologne did not ban circumcision, but it prompted angry protests from Jewish and Muslims groups, especially after the German Medical Association advised doctors not to perform unnecessary circumcisions until the legal situation was clarified – something Germany‘s government has pledged to do soon.

Two weeks ago, a hospital in Zurich also suspended circumcisions, saying it wanted to investigate public concerns about the procedure, which involves cutting off a boy’s foreskin. Anti-circumcision campaigners say the act breaches the child’s right to bodily integrity, while faith groups insist it is part of their religious freedom.

“We in Switzerland aren’t directly affected by the Cologne ruling, but it sparked a debate about how to deal with the medical and ethical issues involved,” said Marco Stuecheli, a spokesman for Zurich’s Children‘s Hospital.

On Tuesday, the governor of Vorarlberg province in Austria told state-run hospitals to stop circumcisions except for health reasons until the legal situation was clarified. He said the German decision, which arose from the case of a child whose circumcision led to medical complications, was a “precedence-setting judgment.”

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