Circumcision Declared Legal in First of 16 German States

Ruling in Berlin city-state follows recent controversy that erupted when a Cologne court indicted a doctor with inflicting unlawful bodily harm by circumcising a 4-year-old boy.

DPA
DPA
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
DPA
DPA

Infant male circumcision was declared legal Wednesday in one of Germany's 16 states, following weeks of controversy about whether the Jewish and Muslim ritual is a crime or not.

The city-state of Berlin became the first to rule on the issue, saying its prosecutors had been instructed not to charge doctors if the boy's parents had consented in writing and proved they were religiously motivated.

The legal row erupted after a ruling in June by a court in Cologne, which found that a doctor had inflicted unlawful bodily harm by circumcising a 4-year-old boy at his parents' request.

Although the Cologne ruling was only binding in a small region, doctors across the country halted the operation for fear of prosecution. The federal government then said it would introduce a law to ensure circumcision remains legal.

While Berlin has moved more swiftly than the federal government or the other states to restore the procedure's legality, it has also imposed restrictions on it, including the duty to inform parents about any medical risks.

"If these criteria are fulfilled, circumcision will remain immune from prosecution," the state justice minister, Thomas Heilmann, said. "If medical standards are observed, circumcision at home or in a synagogue is also acceptable."

He said those standards included using all possible means of reducing pain and limiting bleeding. However, only doctors would be legally allowed to perform the procedure.

Heilmann said the state government did not have the power to authorize a mohel, or Jewish person trained in circumcision, to carry out the ritual. He said only the upcoming federal legislation could change that aspect of the law.

Illustration: An infant boy at his circumcision.Credit: Dudu Greenspan

Comments

SUBSCRIBERS JOIN THE CONVERSATION FASTER

Automatic approval of subscriber comments.

Subscribe today and save 40%

SUBSCRIBE
Already signed up? LOG IN

ICYMI

The Orion nebula, photographed in 2009 by the Spitzer Telescope.

What if the Big Bang Never Actually Happened?

בן גוריון

'Strangers in My House': Letters Expelled Palestinian Sent Ben-Gurion in 1948, Revealed

AIPAC

AIPAC vs. American Jews: The Toxic Victories of the 'pro-Israel' Lobby

Bosnian Foreign Minister Bisera Turkovic speaks during a press conference in Sarajevo, Bosnia in May.

‘This Is Crazy’: Israeli Embassy Memo Stirs Political Storm in the Balkans

Hamas militants take part in a military parade in Gaza.

Israel Rewards Hamas for Its Restraint During Gaza Op

Palestinians search through the rubble of a building in which Khaled Mansour, a top Islamic Jihad militant was killed following an Israeli airstrike in Rafah, southern Gaza strip, on Sunday.

Gazans Are Tired of Pointless Wars and Destruction, and Hamas Listens to Them