Sunday, September 9, 2012

Two Countries, Two Ethic Points of View


“With circumcision, there clearly are very strong traditions and cultural values that come into play,” said Douglas Diekema, a pediatrician and bioethicist at Seattle Children’s Hospital.

Diekema was on the committee that wrote the new statement.

“There’s potential for significant medical benefits,” he said, along with some risks, including bleeding and pain.

“Parents ultimately should decide whether circumcision is in the best interests of their male child.

“They will need to weigh medical information in the context of their own religious, ethical and cultural beliefs and practices.

“The medical benefits alone may not outweigh these other considerations for individual families.”


"Circumcision is an infringement of the child’s right to physical integrity. This right, as laid down in Dutch Constitution, is an inalienable human right like the right to life and the right to personal freedom. ‘Inalienable’ in this sense means that parents’ request or permission does not offer sufficient justification to perform the surgery. Besides a request, there must always be an additional reason, such as a medical interest, as in the case of disease. Circumcision is therefore contrary to the cardinal rule for doctors of ‘first, do no harm’ and to the rule that non-consenting children should only receive medical treatment when medically necessary."

Gert van Dijk — 08.09.2012
Gert van Dijk is an ethicist at the Royal Dutch Medical Association.

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