Friday, January 25, 2008

Late Stage Circumcision Litigation

In a recent Oregon case, a man who recently converted to Judaism wants his 12-year-son to join him in the religion, which means getting circumcised. Ouch!

Unfortunately the non-custodial objects. No word on what the kid thinks yet.

Sticky issues here abound between a parent's right to raise their children, rights of divorced parents to jointly raise children, children's rights, freedom of religion, biomedical ethics...

In this 30-page opinion, the court sent the case back to the trial court to answer the question: What does the boy want? If the trial court finds that M, which is what the court calls him, agrees to be circumcised it should deny the mother’s requests. But if the trial court finds the child opposes the circumcision, the court must decide if it will affect the father’s ability to care for the child.

Seems reasonable, but not to the father and several Jewish organizations that filed an amicus brief arguing that the boy’s attitude about whether he wants the circumcision is not legally significant. They assert that a child is not the decision-maker on such questions, any more than an infant who is circumcised. Further, they argued that the First Amendment’s freedom of religion clause gives the father a constitutionally protected right to circumcise his son, arguing that American Jews must be free to practice circumcision because it is and has been one of the most fundamental and sacred parts of the Jewish tradition.

Aligning with the mother was a Seattle-based group called Doctors Opposing Circumcision. Said the executive director of the group: “Parents are free to practice their religion and to have religious beliefs, but they are not free to change the physical body of their child at will.” |Oregon Supremes Wants Kid to Settle Circumcision Dispute - WSJ Law Blog|

I'll have to think on this one a bit. What should our public policy be on these issues?

Of course, public policy is often code for religious and political values...

1 comment:

Mun Mun said...

Don't know nothin' about policy, but they should leave that kid's peepee alone!