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Circumcision: What should be done?
  1. Hanoch Ben-Yami
  1. Correspondence to Professor Hanoch Ben-Yami, Department of Philosophy, Central European University, 9 Nador Street, Budapest 1051, Hungary; benyamih{at}


I explain why I think that considerations regarding the opposing rights involved in the practice of circumcision—rights of the individual to bodily integrity and rights of the community to practice its religion—would not help us decide on the desirable policy towards this controversial practice. I then suggest a few measures that are not in conflict with either religious or community rights but that can both reduce the harm that circumcision as currently practiced involves and bring about a change in attitude towards the practice, thus further reducing its frequency. These measures are the compulsory administration of anaesthetics; the banning of the metzitzah b'peh; and having an upper age limit of a few months on non-therapeutic circumcision of minors. I conclude with general considerations on why the steps taken towards the reform of circumcision should be moderate.

  • Circumcision
  • Moral and Religious Aspects
  • Rights

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