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German Court: Circumcision is Grievous Bodily Harm

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A court ruling in Cologne this past Tuesday stated that circumcision of young boys for religious reasons is considered to be grievous bodily harm. This judgment, which stated that the "fundamental right of the child to bodily integrity outweighed the fundamental rights of the parents," is a landmark one at that.

Plus: Health Guide to Circumcision

A doctor in Cologne was charged after performing a circumcision on a four-year-old boy born to Muslim parents. When the boy was admitted to the hospital after severe bleeding occurred, the case came into question. The doctor was later acquitted by both a lower and regional court, and was declared innocent due to the confusion regarding the controversial issue.

But now, the court has taken a definitive stand against those looking to circumcise their sons for religious reasons. The court stated that "the body of the child is irreparably and permanently changed by a circumcision.” Also, the court argued that early childhood circumcision does not allow people to make their own religious decisions later in life.

Plus: The Pros and Cons of Circumcision

The strong Jewish community present in Germany spoke out against the ruling, stating that circumcision has been a practice in their religion for thousands of years and a court should not stand in the way of their religious choices. Statistics support the prevalence of circumcision in the world, with one in three males over the age of 15 being circumcised, according to the World Health Organization.

The court determined that circumcisions performed for strictly medical reasons were permissible. But the question still remains, who is in the right here? Both opponents and proponents of circumcision have strong opinions regarding their stance. This ruling, in the wake of the 2011 ban proposed in San Francisco to make circumcision illegal when performed on males under the age of 18, illustrates the continued controversy surrounding the subject.

Who should have the final say when it comes to circumcision—the government, or individuals? What’s your take on the German court ruling?

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