Dagsavisen – important profiles want to prohibit circumcision of boys

Several consultative bodies think the practice should be forbidden

The Nursing federation,  the Ombudsman for Children the Norwegian Humanist Association, the Resource Center for men and the Medical Faculty at the University of Oslo want an end to the practice, according to Dagsavisen.

Each year approximately 2,000 newborn boys are circumcised in Norway. In April this year, the Department for Health and Care Services opened a consultation on possible regulation of the ritual circumcision of male children. The consultation paper proposes that the procedure must be performed by physicians or other experts, and that it should be free of charge. The purpose is to prevent complications and to prevent pain and trauma.

– This is an abuse of the child, says Lars Gule, who is former chairman of the Humanist Association. Gule has on his own initiative submitted a private proposal.

– It limits the child’s ability make free choices when of age.The child will be scarred for life with a sense of belonging to a particular belief, he says the Times.

– Children must be allowed to choose their religious identity. Circumcision is an irreversible procedure that marks the child for life. You never get the foreskin back, says vice chairman of the Humanist Association, Tom Hedalen.

Rights of the Child
The Ombudsman for Children is also negative to the  consultation proposal.

– The debate we must have is whether this is a practice we at all should accept says ombudsman Reidar Hjermann.

He suggests a lower age limit for circumcision.

Under Norwegian law, a 15-year-old has the right to decide on religious matters, while at 16 years, a person can make independent decisions regarding ones own health.

Hjermann also refers to the Convention for the Rights of the Child.

– Article 12 describes children’s rights to participation and influence over their own lives. There is no opportunity to consent when one is new born. There is no human right to cut the foreskin of another human being.

Doctors wary

[ there is a factual mistake in Dagsavisens article, the source of this entry, which has been corrected in other media, the Norwegian Medical Association does not advocate prohibition, an important detail to take into consideration when reading the comments from the President of the Medical Association]

The leader of the Jewish community, Ervin Kohn says that circumcision of boys is an existential question.

– If there is a ban on circumcision in Norway, it means that there is no room for Jews here. This is how important this matter is for us, he says.

Pediatrist Ola Didrik Saugstad does not think circumcision should be banned.

– I’m not very happy about about circumcision, but, this is about respecting the cultures where this is an obligation. If we want to have Muslims and Jews living among us, we cannot prohibit it, says Saugstad.

Medical Association says procedure is unnecessary.

– The best thing would be if this was illegal [again, please note that Dagavisen quoted Dr. Gjessing incorrectly, she may not have said this first paragraph at all]. Unnecessary medical interventions in healthy people lies far beyond the scope of the public health system, Hege Gjessing says, the president of the Norwegian Medical Association.

The Department of Health and Care Services proposes two alternatives to the regulation of the procedure. One model would allow persons other than physicians to perform surgery under certain conditions. In the second model, it is proposed that only qualified medics can perform the procedure.

The Norwegian Board Board of Health Supervision believes that ritual circumcision of boys should not be regulated by Law, and it does not want to supervise the ritual circumcisers who are not medics, if such paraprofessionals would be allowed to perform the procedure.

It really is a shame that Dagsavisen cannot quote their interviewees correctly, the article undoubtedly had more weight when it wrongfully suggested that the Medical Association was lobbying for a prohibition (but the Medical Association says it may reconsider at a later stage).

While the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Oslo and also the Nursing Federation undoubtedly are important players, to know that the University College in South- Trøndelag or other totally obscure and insignificant academic institutions prefer to censure the multiculturalism they so openly advocate for, really is not very exciting.

However, the Medical Association’s suggestion that the National Health Service in Norway only performs strictly necessary procedures rings very hollow. One need not be more than a first year student in medicine to know that much of what goes on in surgical theaters is pretty much done on the whim of the surgeon.Does anybody want to take the debate on really,really useful knee operations?

Lets just hope we have enough professionals like Dr. Saugstad. He seems to have understood that good health is not only the absence of disease, but equally, that people feel valued and equal, with equal rights to be taken seriously, especially when it comes to religious and cultural concerns.