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Swiss hospitals shun Zurich circumcision ban

Malcolm Curtis · 24 Jul 2012, 09:19

Published: 24 Jul 2012 09:19 GMT+02:00

The Zurich University Children’s Hospital announced last week it was halting the surgical procedure in non-medical cases while it considered legal and ethical concerns following a German court decision.

But Basel’s university pediatric clinic (UKBB) announced on Monday that it would continue to perform such surgery.

The clinic said it would only cease the practice if Swiss law makes it illegal.

The Zurich hospital’s decision followed a ruling last month by a court in Cologne, Germany that found a doctor who circumcised a four-year-old Muslim boy had compromised the child's physical integrity.

The case involved medical complications but the judgment sparked an angry response from Jewish and Muslim groups who claim it amounts to an attack on religious freedom.

Conrad Müller, director of UKBB, issued a statement that any interruption of such operations at the Basel hospital would be unacceptable to the families involved.

Religious circumcisions have been practised in Switzerland for decades.

But the Zurich University Children’s Hospital said its management wanted to receive advice from ethical and legal experts about such surgery.

One of the concerns is that infants who receive the operations are unable to provide authorization, raising potential future liability issues.

So far, no other Swiss hospital has followed the lead of the Zurich hospital, although officials for the children’s hospital in St. Gallen say they are still considering the issue.

Lausanne’s main hospital, CHUV, has announced it will continue to perform religious circumcisions.

The hospital said this would guard against the risk of clandestine operations.

Malcolm Curtis (news@thelocal.ch)

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