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October 2013

Legal Threat to Infant Male Circumcision

Author Affiliations
  • 1School of Medical Sciences and Bosch Institute, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia
  • 2Department of Pathology, School of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland
JAMA Pediatr. 2013;167(10):890-891. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2013.2761

Despite a recent shift in pediatric policy in the United States toward support for newborn circumcision of boys,1 the procedure continues to be challenged on legal and ethical grounds. In 2010, a ballot initiative in San Francisco, California, to ban the circumcision of male infants gained publicity, as did a decision by a minor court in Cologne, Germany, in 2012 that found the illegality of circumcision is among the “undecided questions of law,” concluding the defendant was not guilty of a criminal act. New legislation was then passed in each jurisdiction protecting the practice. Nevertheless, while no court of law or government in the United States or elsewhere in the world has successfully enacted a ban on the circumcision of male minors, lobbying efforts by opponents continue unabated. Such campaigns contributed to the withdrawal of Medicaid coverage for elective male circumcision in 18 states.

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