Press Release 09/2012

Ethics Council recommends legal and professional standards for circumcision

Accompanied by great public and media attention, the Ethics Council today held a public plenary meeting in which it considered the circumcision of minor boys for religious and ideological reasons.

In her introduction, the Chair, Christiane Woopen, emphasized that the Ethics Council intends its public debate to contribute to objective discourse.

The Ethics Council's discussion was based on talks by the members Leo Latasch, Ilhan Ilkilic, Reinhard Merkel, Wolfram Höfling and Peter Dabrock on medical; religious and cultural; criminal-law and constitutional-law; and ethical aspects of circumcision.

Despite far-reaching differences on fundamental questions, the Ethics Council unanimously recommends that legal standards should be established for the circumcision of minor boys for religious or ideological reasons, and that the following minimum requirements should be observed in this process:

  •     full information and consent of those with custody of the child
  •     professional medical pain treatment
  •     professional medical operating standards, and
  •     recognition that the boy has a right of refusal depending on his stage of development.

In addition to this, the Ethics Council calls for professional standards for carrying out circumcision to be developed and evaluated, in consultation with those affected and the organizations involved.

The individual talks and the discussion (in German) can be followed here (in German).