The Danish Medical Organisations’ policy paper on non-therapeutic circumcision of male minors, circumcision without medical indication. Authored by the board of the Danish Medical Organisation, 5. November 2020.
Circumcision of Boys Without Medical Indication is Ethically Unacceptable
Circumcision Should Not be Performed Without Informed Consent by the Person in Question
The Danish Medical Organisation is of the opinion that circumcision without medical indication is ethically unacceptable, if the procedure is performed without the informed consent of the person who is undergoing the procedure. Thus circumcision should not be performed until the boy has majority to choose the procedure actively and independently.
Grounds for the Opinion of the Danish Medical Organisation
All surgical procedures entail a risk of complications, as a general rule surgical interventions should therefore be limited to situations in which the likelihood of a health benefit for the patient is very high. The Danish Medical Organisation does not find it to be documented that circumcision is a health benefit for the boys.
Circumcision involves pain and discomfort for the child who is undergong the procedure. The Danish Medical Organisation finds that medical procedures that involve pain or discomfort for persons under the age of majority must be limited to situations in which the procedure is a clear health benefit to the person in question. The Danish Medical Organisation does not find a such benefit documented.
Circumcision of boys is a surgical procedure that permanently alters the anatomy of the boy. With the procedure the child’s options for bodily autonomy are reduced and so are the possibilities to influence personal cultural and religious affiliations. Therefore, the Danish Medical Organisation finds it to be in best compliance with individual rights to self determination to leave the decision about circumcision to the individual person at the age of majority.
Non-therapeutic Circumcision of Boys Must Cease
From a medical and medical ethical perspective the Danish Medical Organisation finds that the current practise of circumcision of boys must cease. The transition process will be complex and must be undertaken in dialogue with the groups within the population to whom circumcision of boys carry a religious or cultural importance. The most important consideration during the transition towards abolishment must be the health of the affected children, including minimisation of the number of procedures performed in setting that cannot be considered patient-safe.
The Danish Medical Organisation is not in a position to determine whether prohibition is currently the best solution in relation to patient safety and collective interest of the society. Therefore, the Danish Medical Organisation has not addressed this question and, thus, the The Danish Medical Organisation is neither pro nor against the introduction of prohibition.
Translation by Intact Denmark.