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Bioethics. 2009 Oct;23(8):470-82. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8519.2008.00683.x.

Cultural circumcision in EU public hospitals--an ethical discussion.

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Bioethics Department, St. Joseph University, Philadelphia, PA, USA.


The paper explores the ethical aspects of introducing cultural circumcision of children into the EU public health system. We reject commonplace arguments against circumcision: considerations of good medical practice, justice, bodily integrity, autonomy and the analogy from female genital mutilation. From the unique structure of patient-medicine interaction, we argue that the incorporation of cultural circumcision into EU public health services is a kind of medicalization, which does not fit the ethos of universal healthcare. However, we support a utilitarian argument that finds hospital based circumcision safer than non-medicalized alternatives. The argument concerning medicalization and the utilitarian argument both rely on preliminary empirical data, which depend on future validation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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