Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Judge rules against boy’s circumcision

This is a most interesting legal decision. According to the Chicago Tribune,
In a case that has been closely watched by anti-circumcision groups nationwide, a Cook County judge ruled Tuesday that the medical benefits of the procedure are not clear enough to compel a 9-year-old Northbrook boy to be circumcised against his will.

The boy's mother and her new husband had claimed the operation was necessary to prevent recurrent episodes of redness and discomfort. The boy's father sought a court order barring the circumcision, which he called an "unnecessary amputation."

The mother has sole custody, but their 2003 parenting agreement gave her ex-husband a say in non-emergency medical decisions. The Tribune is not naming the parents in order to protect the boy's privacy.

In a written opinion handed down Tuesday, Circuit Court Judge Jordan Kaplan said, "The evidence was conflicting and inconclusive as to any past infections or irritations that may have been suffered by the child.

"Moreover," he continued, "this court also finds that the medical evidence as provided by the testimony of the expert witnesses ... is inconclusive as to the medical benefits or non-benefits of circumcision as it relates to the 9-year-old child."

Kaplan said the boy, as a minor, cannot make his own medical decisions but had indicated in a written statement that he does not want to be circumcised...
Clearly the court would not have intervened had the biological father not objected, but should courts ban genital mutilation of all minor males? If not, then why should the mutilation of minor females not also be permitted?

What types of unnecessary mutilation should be legally acceptable, and whose opinion should prevail? Who defines "medical"? If mutilation should be banned due to the lack of medical justification, should there be a religious exemption? If circumcision is not medically justifiable, what about ear piercing? Should a father be able to prevent his ex-wife from piercing her 9-year-old daughter's ears, with or without the child's consent? What if the child objects to the piercing? At what age should a child's opinion be considered by a court on such a matter?

It should never be taken lightly when a court's judgement replaces that of a parent, but I think that circumcision, except when medically indicated, if such a case can really exist, can properly be banned by courts. When a person reaches the age of majority he can always decide to be mutilated. But how can I then justify the ear piercing of a minor?


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