Do Motives Matter in Male Circumcision? ‘Conscientious Objection’ Against the Circumcision of a Muslim Child with a Blood Disorder


  • Conflict of interest statement: No conflicts declared


Whilst there have been serious attempts to locate the practice of male circumcision for religious motives in the context of the (respective) religion's narrative and community, the debate, when referring to a clinical context, is often more nuanced. This article will contribute further to the debate by contextualising the Islamic practice of male circumcision within the clinical setting typical of a contemporary hospital. It specifically develops an additional complication; namely, the child has a pre-existing blood disorder. As an approach to contributing to the circumcision debate further, the ethics of a conscientious objection for secular motives towards a religiously-motivated clinical intervention will be explored. Overall, the discussion will provide relevance for such debates within the value-systems of a multi-cultural society. This article replicates several approaches to deconstructing a request for conscientious refusal of non-therapeutic circumcision by a Clinical Ethics Committee (CEC), bringing to light certain contradictions that occur in normatively categorizing motives for performing the circumcision.