An Ethical Evaluation of the Practice of Non-Therapeutic Underage Boy Circumcision in The Netherlands
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In the last decade, various religious rituals have been heavily discussed, which for some led to prohibition of corresponding practice. In 2004, France enacted a law that forbids wearing a headscarf in public schools. Another example of this tendency is the fact that ritual slaughtering is a hot topic of debate in several Western countries. Freedom of religion on the other hand is considered as one of the historical roots of liberalism. Recently, June 2012, The German Regional Court of Cologne ruled that religious circumcision of boys who are unable to give their medical consent constitutes bodily harm. In light of this ruling, the research question of this thesis reads as follows: Is non-therapeutic underage boy circumcision (NTUBC) morally justifiable in a liberal democratic society such as the Netherlands? In order to give a comprehensive answer to this question, the case of NTUBC is investigated from three different perspectives: a medical ethical, a parental, and a policy perspective. Despite the fact that the development of religious tolerance is considered to be one of the historical roots of liberalism, elementary individual rights – including those of children – have gained, and as I will argue should gain, more and more importance in liberal societies. Therefore the conclusion of this thesis is that it is difficult, if not impossible, to morally justify the practice of NTUBC.