Cutting off children’s penises… an acceptable risk?

In 2012, following the lead of Germany, hospitals in Austria and Switzerland briefly banned circumcisions on male minors after the Cologne court ruling that it could amount to bodily harm. Unfortunately it was only briefly.

Unfortunately, I said, because in 2014, a doctor in Geneva severed a four-year-old’s penis during a circumcision and ‘wasted time’ before sending him to hospital. The doctor now faces trial accused of inflicting serious bodily harm through negligence.

The father blames the doctor, who he says ran looking for a catheter and told him to wait in the operating room, and who also failed to properly restrain the boy. The doctor, through his lawyer, blames the father, because he was taking photos and the boy turned to face him, resulting in the act of severing his penis, and also states that he told the father to go to the hospital immediately.

It took several surgeries to reattach the penis, but further procedures will be needed once he becomes an adult. The surgeon continued practicing after the incident, and has since conducted an additional 1,800 circumcisions.

Every year we hear about a some boys losing part or the totality of their penises during circumcision. For a recent American example, Dr. Stephen R. Glicken from Hazleton, PA, on July 20, 2016 circumcised a newborn baby and “cut off a significant portion of the penis” and then failed to transfer the partially amputated portion of their son’s penis on ice, and as a result, attempts to reattach it were “unlikely to succeed and could result in additional complications.”

And in the meantime, circumcision fanboy Brian Morris PhD, who has in the past claimed that the benefits of circumcision outweigh the risks (which in his words are “predominantly minor”) 100 to 1, now claims the actual benefit to risk ratio is 200 to 1. How did this rate doubled up in a couple of years, I wish someone would ask Mr. Morris.

Now, Morris, and I know you are reading this, can you help us understand how this 200 to 1 benefit ratio applies to the very real and individual boys who suffer traumatic injuries such as the ones here described?

Perhaps a few boys are considered an acceptable risk for the medical community, but it’s not an acceptable risk for the families and boys who suffer such horrible loss.

In the meantime, in Denmark, where most of the population is in favor of banning the circumcision of male boys, the government claims that circumcision is “a human right” – and part of the reason is that it “is rarely associated with medical complications, when performed under medical supervision, and that it’s viewed as a religious expression and therefore falls under the freedom of religion right.” Tell that to the unnamed Swiss boy – or the also unnamed American baby.


One thought on “Cutting off children’s penises… an acceptable risk?

  1. In all these debates about infant genital mutilation, there is one question that is never asked: “What about the religious freedom of the child?”

    And why not? – Because that question can have only one honest answer, and it would end the debate immediately.

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