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fatpie42 in atheism

Proposed Circumcision Ban In Norway - Male Circumcision This Time...

Religious leaders furious over Norway’s proposed circumcision ban

by Barry Duke

JENNY Klinge,  Norway’s Centre Party justice policy spokeswoman, has angered religious leaders by condemning the ritual circumcision of infant boys. Calling it “outdated” and “dangerous”, she called for its ban. She said:

In my view, this is a custom that we cannot accept in a modern, civilized society. Our aim is to prioritise the rights of small children. Fortunately, it has become forbidden to circumcise girls, now it’s time for boys to get the same legal protection.

Jenny Klinge says the ritual circumcision of infant boys is barbarous

She stressed that boys who have been ritually circumcised can never remove what she called “a religious marker” if they choose to convert to another religion or have no religious beliefs.

I’m not buying the argument that banning circumcision is a violation of religious freedom, because such freedom must involve being able to choose for themselves.

But she stressed that she was not opposed to circumcision in cases where it was deemed a medical necessity.

However, circumcision based on ritual and religion is actually about holding down a newborn baby boy and cutting off part of a healthy sexual organ, with all the consequences that this might have for an individual’s future health and sex life.

With this in mind, performing a circumcision on religious grounds ought to be made a criminal offence, she added.

Jan Helge Solbakk, a professor of medical ethics at Oslo University, agreed with Klinge’s criticism of the practice.

It represents an irreversible operation on a boy who is not in a position to protect himself, and as such is in breach of basic human rights.

Ervin Kohn, Chairman and Trustee of the Jewish community disagrees, saying a ban would serve as a very strong signal that the Jews are an unwanted minority in the country. He claims that 99 percent of all Jews in the world circumcise their male children.

It is the visible covenant between Abraham and God. It goes directly on religious freedom and that Norway is a tolerant society.

Kohn also points out that research has documented the health benefits of circumcision.

Glen Poole, Strategic Director of The Men’s Network in Brighton & Hove, reports on his Ending Unnecessary Male Circumcision in the UK blog that the proposed ban had also been condemned by Espen Ottosen, Information Director of Misjonssambandet (Federation of Christian Missionaries), and a Muslim Norwegian physician, Mohammad Usman Rana, who voiced his opposition in a newspaper article entitled Circumcision: Those who will forbid circumcision of young boys in reality invite a totalitarian guardian-state.

Poole points out that pro-circumcisionists claim:

To circumcise boys is a minor operation. Internationally there is a plethora of medical studies which report few complications. We know that the procedure actually provides health benefits.  Urinary tract infections for example are far less common among circumcised boys.  The risk of HIV contamination is also reduced.

Poole counters:

We say all the reported health benefits have either been disproven, contradicted or considered too insignificant to justify the agreed risks and complications which include bleeding, infections, meatus stenosis (narrowing of the urethra) and panic attacks. There isn’t a single medical association in the world that supports the procedure. 

The British Medical Association, for example, stated in 2003 that ‘the medical benefits previously claimed have not been convincingly proven’ and ‘that the evidence concerning health benefits from non-therapeutic circumcision is insufficient for this alone to be a justification for doing it.

(Source: The Freethinker)

Nothing much to add to this except that I find it amusing to see a religious objection that protecting young children from abuse is "totalitarian". 'My goodness, laws against the mutilation of young boy's genitals? Parts of young children cut off in the privacy of my own home should be of no consequence to the government. It's the nanny state I say!'

Pretty much the only argument against this law is "what about freedom of religion?" and, to be frank, it's not looking like a strong case. You could make a similar argument for human sacrifice, though that has the added benefit that at least the person affected would be doing it of their own free will.


Blocking a child from getting a permanent body modification (tattoo) does not prevent them from deciding to still get it later in life, when they can be expected to form an informed decision. Contrarily, performing a permanent body modification (circumcision) on a child does prevent them from deciding not to get it later in life. In the first case, the choice is still given to the person later in life. In the second, the choice is taken away at a young age.

The parent has a duty over the body of their child, to care for them until they can care for themselves. A duty. Not a right.
Religions do, in fact, adapt. However much they insist that their laws and rituals are ancient and immutable, they do change and adapt over time. And they will again.
I believe Jews currently expect circumcision to happen within the first year of life. It's almost like a naming ceremony. The Bar Mitzvah is supposed to mark when a child can be trusted to make their own independent decisions, but circumcision is the first ever rite of passage for a Jewish child marking their introduction into the culture (though simply being born to a Jewish mother welcomes them into the faith).

Still, what changes in the future is probably more important than what has happened in the past.