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Comment & Response
March 2014

Circumcision Is a Religious/Cultural Procedure, Not a Medical Procedure

Author Affiliations
  • 1Attorneys for the Rights of the Child, Berkeley, California
JAMA Pediatr. 2014;168(3):293-294. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2013.5107

To the Editor Morris and Tobian1 note that parents are granted wide latitude in authorizing surgical procedures for their children. But that latitude is not unlimited and is fiduciary in nature. Fundamentally, male circumcision is a religious and cultural cosmetic procedure, not a valid medical procedure.

Almost 70 years ago, writing in a much less child-protective era than the present, in Prince v Massachusetts, the US Supreme Court held that “neither rights of religion nor rights of parenthood are beyond limitation…. Parents may be free to become martyrs themselves. But it does not follow they are free, in identical circumstances, to make martyrs of their children [emphasis added]….”2

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