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Keywords:

  • circumcision (male);
  • public healthcare (EU);
  • cross-religious dialogue;
  • bodily integrity;
  • tolerance

ABSTRACT

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.