Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting nature.com. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

The ethics of child genital cutting. When does a violation occur? Comments on “Defending an inclusive right to genital and bodily integrity for children” by Dr. Kate Goldie Townsend

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Access options

Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

$32.00

All prices are NET prices.

Notes

  1. Yet despite employing a rigorous certification process which requires medical expertize, the Reform program notes, “The Brit Milah program, URJ, HUC, CCAR or any other associated body or individual holds no liability in regard to medical matters” [18].

  2. Notable examples include the late A. Romi Cohn, former chairman of the “American Board of Ritual Circumcision,” pictured in his lab coat in an article for the New York Times [19]. More recently, the trend is continued by popular Orthodox mohel, Meir Sultan [20]. Their coats include nameplates over the left lapel resembling those typical in Western medicine, accompanied by the honorific “CM” for “certified mohel.”

References

  1. Townsend KG. Defending an inclusive right to genital and bodily integrity for children. Int J Impot Res. 2021. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41443-021-00503-x.

  2. Murphy TF. Adolescents and body modification for gender identity expression. Med Law Rev. 2019;27:623–39.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. World Health Organization [Internet]. Traditional male circumcision among young people: a public health perspective in the context of HIV prevention; 2009 November [cited 2022 Aug 11]. https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/44247/9789241598910_eng.pdf

  4. Rabbinical Assembly [Internet]. CJLS: Morris M. Shapiro; 1981. “Improperly Circumcised Children and Parents’ Synagogue Membership”; 1981 May 28 [cited 2022 Jun 29]. https://www.rabbinicalassembly.org/sites/default/files/assets/public/halakhah/teshuvot/20012004/12.pdf

  5. Fusaschi M. Gendered genital modifications in critical anthropology: from discourses on FGM/C to new technologies in the sex/gender system. Int J Impotence Res. 2022 online ahead of print https://www.nature.com/articles/s41443-022-00542-y

  6. Earp BD. The child’s right to bodily integrity. In: Edmonds D, editor. Ethics and the Contemporary World. Abingdon and New York: Routledge; 2019. p. 217–35.

  7. Möller K. Ritual male circumcision and parental authority. Jurisprudence. 2017;8:461–79.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Earp BD. Protecting children from medically unnecessary genital cutting without stigmatizing women’s bodies: implications for sexual pleasure and pain. Arch Sex Behav. 2021;50:1875–85.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Hammond T, Carmack A. Long-term adverse outcomes from neonatal circumcision reported in a survey of 1,008 men: an overview of health and human rights implications. Int J Hum Rights. 2017;21:189–218.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Brussels Collaboration on Bodily Integrity. Medically unnecessary genital cutting and the rights of the child: moving toward consensus. Am J Bioeth. 2019;19:17–28.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Duivenbode R, Padela AI. The problem of female genital cutting: bridging secular and Islamic bioethical perspectives. Perspect Biol Med. 2019;62:273–300.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Shweder RA. The prosecution of Dawoodi Bohra women: some reasonable doubts. Global Disc Bristol Univ Press. 2022;12:9–27.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Bootwala, Y. Exploring opposition to ritual female genital cutting since the first US federal prosecution: the 2017 Detroit case. Int J Impotence Res. 2022 online ahead of print at https://www.nature.com/articles/s41443-022-00532-0

  14. Gollaher, DL. From ritual to science: the medical transformation of circumcision in America. J Social Hist.1994;28:5–36.

  15. Lempert A, Chegwidden J, Steinfeld R, & Earp BD. Non-therapeutic penile circumcision of minors: current controversies in UK law and medical ethics. Clin Ethics. 2022:1–19. https://doi.org/10.1177/14777509221104703.

  16. Davis DS. Ancient rites and new laws: how should we regulate religious circumcision of minors? J Med Ethics. 2013;39:456–8.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Glick, LB. Marked in your flesh: circumcision from ancient Judea to modern America. New York: Oxford University Press; 2005.

  18. Union for Reform Judaism [Internet]. (2022). Bris program; 2022 April 8 [cited 2022 Aug 11]. https://www.brisprogram.org/

  19. New York Times [Internet]. NYT: Sharon Otterman, “Denouncing City’s Move To Regulate Circumcision”; 2012 Sep 12 [cited 2022 Aug 15]. https://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/13/nyregion/regulation-of-circumcision-method-divides-some-jews-in-new-york.html

  20. Mohel Los Angeles [Internet]. About The Mohel; 2022 [cited 2022 Aug 15]. page http://www.mohellosangeles.com/about-the-mohel/

  21. Timmermans FW, Mokken SE, Poor Toulabi SCZ, Bouman MB, & Özer M. A review on the history of and treatment options for foreskin reconstruction after circumcision. Int J Impotence Res. 2022;34:424–33.

Download references

Acknowledgements

I am grateful to the following for help with this paper and for consulting with me on this topic: Max DuBoff, Brian Earp, Jason Petrulis, Eliyahu Ungar-Sargon, B.G, and B.M.S. I would also like to thank the reviewer for their helpful comments, and the editor and staff at the IJIR for all their excellent work.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Contributions

All contributions were made by a single author, MB.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Max Buckler.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The author declares no competing interests.

Additional information

Publisher’s note Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Buckler, M. The ethics of child genital cutting. When does a violation occur? Comments on “Defending an inclusive right to genital and bodily integrity for children” by Dr. Kate Goldie Townsend. Int J Impot Res (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41443-022-00611-2

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Revised:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41443-022-00611-2

Search

Quick links