Following German Court Ruling, Switzerland Hospitals Suspend Circumcisions

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Two Swiss hospitals announced last week that they would temporarily stop performing circumcisions.

The announcements followed a recent ruling by a German court that the ritual is illegal, which sparked outrage among the Jewish and Muslim communities living in the country.

On Thursday, the Zurich children's hospital announced that it was temporarily halting circumcision operations. "We are in the process of evaluating the legal and ethical stance in Switzerland," said Marco Stuecheli, a spokesman for the hospital.   

"There can be complicated cases where the mother of a child wants a circumcision but the father is opposed to it," he added.    

The hospital said it performs only one or two such operations a month.

Meanwhile, another children's hospital, located in the city of St. Gallen in northeastern Switzerland, has also decided to reassess its policy on circumcision.

A senior administrator at the hospital told the local media that a decision on the matter would be reached after the summer vacation.

The German government plans to submit a bill to parliament which would regulate the issue of circumcision and protect doctors who perform them from lawsuits.

Also last week, the German parliament passed a resolution endorsing the right of Muslim and Jewish parents to have their sons circumcised and urging the government to pass legislation on the matter.

German Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger , of the Free Democratic Party, told Der Spiegel that the circumcision ordeal "is more complicated than just adding a few sentences in somewhere, like some people think."

Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger's comment came in response to efforts of the Bundestag to urge Germany's government to propose a bill by autumn 2012 that would ensure that medically competent circumcision of boys without unnecessary pain remains basically permissible. According to Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, the saga might find its way to the Germany's constitutional court, which serves as the highest legislative authority in the state.

A Jewish baby at his circumcision. Credit: AP