Doctors in Denmark want to stop circumcision for under-18s

'It is most consistent with the individual’s right to self-determination that parents not be allowed to make this decision,' says Ethics Board

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The Independent Online

Boys should not be circumcised until they are old enough to choose for themselves, doctors in Denmark have said.

The Danish Medical Association said it had considered suggesting a legal ban on the procedure for children under the age of 18, because it believed circumcision should be “an informed, personal choice” that young men make for themselves.

When parents have their sons circumcised, it robs boys of the ability to make decisions about their own bodies, and choose their cultural and religious beliefs for themselves, the organisation said.

Lise Møller, chair of the Doctors' Association Ethics Board, said it was wrong to deny an individual the right to choose whether or not they wanted to be circumcised.

“To be circumcised should be an informed, personal choice," she said.

"It is most consistent with the individual’s right to self-determination that parents not be allowed to make this decision, but that it is left up to the individual when he has come of age."

The organisation said that because male circumcision is not without risk it should only be performed on children when there is a documented medical need. 

The doctors stopped short of calling for an all-out legal ban on the procedure, which is currently allowed but remains relatively rare in Denmark, because it said the move could have too many negative consequences.

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“We have discussed it thoroughly, also in our ethics committee," Ms  Møller said. "We came to the conclusion that it is difficult to predict the consequences of a ban – both for the involved boys, who could for example face bullying or unauthorised procedures with complications – and for the cultural and religious groups they belong to."

The Danish Health and Medicines Authority estimates that somewhere between 1,000 and 2,000 circumcisions are performed in Denmark each year, primarily on Jewish and Muslim boys. 

The majority of those procedures occur outside of the public health system and are done as part of a religious ceremony in the child's home, or in a private clinic.

The Danish Health Ministry announced on Monday that beginning in 2017 all circumcisions, regardless of where they take place, will have to be reported to Denmark's national patient registry.

According to a major 2007 study by the World Health Organization, roughly 30 per cent of the global male population is circumcised. 

Past polls have shown that upwards of 87 per cent of Danes support banning the practice on boys under the age of 18, the Local reported.

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