Circumcision Outlawed ... Even for Religious Purposes

scissorsYou’d think the Germans would have more respect for Jewish religious traditions, you know, considering that whole Holocaust thing. Which is why I was shocked to hear that the country outlawed circumcision this week even for religious purposes.

I told a friend who grew up in Germany about this, and she said it didn’t surprise her. Her exact words were, “No one gets circumcised in Germany ... there are nude beaches, and well, you see things. And I can tell you circumcision is very uncommon.”


I understand that circumcision is not necessary, and that the growing trend in the United States is to leave baby boys intact. Only about a third of boys born here are now without foreskin. As a mom to two daughters, it’s a decision my husband and I have never had to make, but I can imagine it can be a difficult. Since I have no strong opinion on it one way or the other, I’d probably let Dad decide.

That’s a choice that I believe should belong to the parents, not the government. Not even San Francisco was crazy enough to actually ban circumcision. There are health pros and cons on both sides, and anyone that’s ever visited a parenting website knows that the debate can be hot, but ultimately, it comes down to mom and dad making the best decision they can for their son.

Sometimes the verdict of whether to cut or not is made by a couple’s religion. The most famous faith requiring circumcision is Judaism, which calls for a bris on a baby boy’s eighth day after birth. It’s a special ceremony, blessing and marking the child for God, and it’s really important in the Jewish faith. Boys aren’t even officially named until their bris.

For a government to come in and deny parents the right to act in accordance with their religious traditions is atrocious. This is about a simple procedure that has virtually no negative effects if performed in a sterile environment by a trained professional. It’s not like we’re talking about female circumcision that has brutal consequences for the poor girls that endure that torture. That I’m ok with banning.

Holm Putzke, a University of Passau jurist, told the Financial Times Deutschland (which broke the story), “As opposed to many politicians, the court was not deterred by fears of being criticized for anti-Semitism or hostility toward religion.”

Oh good, I’m glad to know they don’t care if they’re anti-Semites or not. You know who else didn’t care about being anti-Semitic? Hitler. Just saying.


Image via Public Domain Photos/Flickr

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