Denmark Opens Health Probe Into Circumcision

By JTA

Published August 26, 2012.
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Denmark’s government has commissioned an investigation into whether non-medical circumcision procedures violate its health code.

Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt on Saturday told the Copenhagen-based Politiken daily: “We will examine the public health recommendations followed in this area.” The paper reported that the government has commissioned a study on this question.

Last month Politiken published an expose which said the National Board of Health did not monitor the conditions under which circumcision takes place.

Non-medical circumcision of minors has been the subject of a heated debate in Denmark over the past few months. Several politicians have reportedly called for a ban on the practice, prompting angry reactions from Jews and Muslims.

Venstre, Denmark’s largest party, will decide whether to seek a ban on such circumcisions based on the results of the study, a party spokesperson told JTA.

The chief rabbi of Denmark, Bent Lexner, told Politiken he did not think the launching of the investigation reflected distrust on the government’s part. He said the government was welcome to carry out its investigation.

He added that a doctor is always present during a circumcision, which under the Jewish rite is carried out by a mohel, or ritual circumciser.

“Our register goes back 250 years and we can document every single circumcision. A journal is also kept in connection with the circumcision itself. The doctor who is present keeps a record of what happens,” Lexner told Politiken.

Denmark, a country of 5.5 million citizens, has a Muslim minority of 210,000 and some 8,500 Jews.

Finn Schwarz, president of the Jewish Congregation in Copenhagen, told JTA that the current debate about circumcision is connected to popular discontent with the level of integration of Muslim immigrants.


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