Circumcision – bodily harm?

In furtherance of our discussion the other day about circumcisions, I came across this news article today in VosIzNeias :

Helsinki, Finland – A couple who had a British rabbi circumcise their baby boy has been found guilty of conspiracy to commit bodily harm by the Helsinki District Court. The court ordered the parents to pay their child 1,500 euros for pain and suffering.

The court ruled that the procedure met the characteristics of bodily harm as the baby was circumcised without an anasthestic. Furthermore, the rabbi who performed the circumcision is not licensed to practice medicine in Finland.

The prosecutor had sought to convict the couple on grievous bodily harm charges or the conspiracy to commit such harm. The court, however, dropped the charge to conspiracy because the parents did not themselves perform the circumcision.

The rabbi circumcised the week-old boy at Helsinki’s Jewish Community Centre last spring. The baby was later rushed to hospital because of excessive bleeding.

Expert witnesses testified that circumcision complications are very rare. That said, the court ruled that neither the rabbi nor the parents can be perceived as having willfully caused the problems that arose after the operation.

Finland’s Supreme Court ruled in 2008 that male circumcision carried out for religious and social reasons and in a medical manner does not constitute a criminal offence. At the time it pointed out that the circumcision of Muslim boys is an established tradition and an integral part of the identity of Muslim men.

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24 responses to “Circumcision – bodily harm?

  1. You’re probably going to get spammed by some trolls on this one. Every time I have written about this I get a bunch of wackjobs camping out on my blog.

    I don’t buy the bodily harm argument. Provided it is done properly it is reasonable. I have yet to see proof of it being harmful.

  2. hey there are risks to every medical procedure no matter how low-risk the procedure may be. in truth, it is important for parents to do research b/f choosing a mohel/ritual circumciser. in our son’s case, the mohel was my husband’s grandfather who had circumcised my husband as well as many others before him so we were very fortunate but it is obviously important to use someone reputable.

  3. Do circumcisions outside of hospitals usually involve anesthetic?

    • some mohels do use anesthetic cream, some don’t. the baby is not put to sleep outside of the hospital for a circ.

      • A doctor once told me that putting the baby to sleep (anesthesia) is more dangerous on average than the circumcision itself.

        The anesthetic cream is fine and many modern mohelim will use it upon request (and some perhaps even by default).

  4. I think the issue here was that they had not used a Doctor licensed to practise in Finland. If they had and there would have been complications, there would have been no legal case, IMHO.

    But a kosher bris needs to be done by a mohel and how many of them are MDs and licensed to practise in Finland?

  5. I have a better idea. Why not poke out the kid’s eye. It’ll heal after a bit!

  6. “Finland’s Supreme Court ruled in 2008 that male circumcision carried out for religious and social reasons and in a medical manner does not constitute a criminal offence.”

    Any one have any knowledge how Finland feels about female circumcision?

  7. Not surprised to hear of this kind of prosecution; some of Europe’s more “enlightened” nations have been targeting Jews who engage in such “barbaric” practices as shechita and brit mila. One has to wonder whether or not other “minority” communities have these laws enforced upon them with the same level of zeal.

    As you pointed out above, the authorities may have not had a case if the parents used a Finnish mohel, but one has to wonder if there are any in the country?

    Also, Mark is correct as regards the use of topical anesthesia such as Emla (lidocaine/prilocaine) cream. Most mohelim use it by default these days.

  8. Last year I had a co worker who was adamantly opposed to circumcision for similar reasons (it’s barbaric, it causes bodily harm, etc.). Mind you, she had no kids of her own yet and was not speaking from any kind of experience. When I pointed out the many long term health advantages, backed up by research, she had no counter argument. The following is from

    The public health benefits are enormous, and include protection from urinary tract infections, that are common over the lifetime, inferior genital hygiene, smegma, sexually transmitted HIV, oncogenic types of human papillomavirus, genital herpes, syphilis and chancroid, penile cancer, and possibly prostate cancer, phimosis, paraphimosis, thrush, and inflammatory skin conditions such as balanitis and balanoposthitis.

    • >The public health benefits are enormous

      Blah blah blah.

      From here: “Circumcision is irreversible. Healthy, functioning tissue is amputated from a helpless baby. Many have taken the position that the procedure is a human rights violation. The question is whether parents have the right to consent to an unnecessary procedure that has lifelong consequences.”

      From here: “It started as an ancient Egyptian custom and there are wall carvings to prove it. It seems to have its origin in snake worship. The Egyptians believed that when the snake shed its skin, and emerged shiny and new again, it was undergoing rebirth. They reasoned that if, by shedding skin, the snake could become apparently immortal, then humans should follow suit. They made the simple equation: snakeskin = foreskin, and the operation began. From there it spread to many Semetic peoples, both Arabs and Jews adopting it and converting it into an act of religious faith. As the centuries passed, it became popular in other regions of the world for moral, medical, or hygenic reasons.”

      The Ramabam said this: “…people believe that circumcision is to removea defect in man’s formation… How can products of nature be deficient soas to require external completion, especially as the use of the foreskinto that organ is evident. This commandment has not been enjoined as a complementto a deficient physical creation, but as a means for perfecting man’s moralshortcomings. …Circumcision simply counteracts excessive lust; for thereis no doubt that circumcision weakens the power ofsexual excitement,and sometimes lessens the natural enjoyment…”

      But I get it. The sick *** who thought up the idea in the first place and the majority of women nowadays like it for “aesthetic” reasons. I say why don’t we start with female genital mutilation and see how much you like it.

  9. sorry, i know i went a little off the orig. topic, but it’s all related!

  10. peace and love

    Religious customs and health benefits aside, uncircumsized ones look NASTY! That is reason enough to circumcise

  11. I’d be interested to know what perecentage of mohels use anesthesia. I’ll bet it’s very low. And even if it was 100% (again, highly unlikely, but I bet the frummies will be yelling and screaming that it is), that would only account for the last hundred years or so when they’ve had anesthesia. Before then? Chop chop chop!

    I don’t get, why don’t they just slit the kid’s throat while they’re at it. It’ll only hurt for just a minute!

  12. I remember learning in third grade Nach class that the Jewish warriors thousands of years ago were requested to collect the foreskins of dead Philistines. I knew right then that the Bible-writers were sick **** with an obsession with male genitalia.