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Non-medical circumcision of boys by public health service

Ministry of Social Affairs and Health
Publication date 12.2.2004 9.00
Press release -

The circumcision of boys under cultural and religious traditions should be allowed with the permission of parents or guardians and should only be carried out by an authorised physician, a MSAH working group has concluded.

Such circumcisions should be in line with those carried out for medical purposes and should be provided by public health services. Parents should be able to choose to have the procedure performed privately, if they wish.

The working group, charged with drawing up proposals concerning the circumcision of boys, also suggests that because the practice entails interfering with the physical inviolability it should be regulated by law. The main aim should be to ensure the interests of the child and ensure that circumcision is carried out in safe conditions, the working group reported.

The report of the working group sets out different viewpoints on how the circumcision of boys should be provided for by the health service.

One argument for allowing non-medical circumcisions on the public health service is that large families might otherwise find the procedure too expensive, prompting them to arrange it outside the health system. This would increase the chances of medical complications and the suffering of the child.

Each year about 200 boys are circumcised in Finland for non-medical reasons. Though some district hospitals allow them under the public health service, the majority do not.

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