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Swedish Lawmakers Vote Down Bill Requiring Parents to Pay for Circumcision

Swedish lawmakers voted down a bill that would require parents to pay for non-medical circumcision of boys.

The right-wing Sweden Democrats party brought the bill to a vote Tuesday at the regional council of Blekinge County in the kingdom’s south, Sveriges Radio reported. The party claimed that the practice should not be covered by the healthcare system because it is barbaric and compared it to female genital mutilation, according to Swedish media.

But the argument encountered passionate objections during the debate that preceded the voting, including by Anna Ekstrom of the Liberal People’s Party. She rejected the comparison and argued that circumcision was akin to Christian baptism, the Sydostran local newspaper reported.

Dismissing claims that circumcision dulled sexual pleasure, Inga-Lill Siggelsten Blum of Sweden’s Christian Democrats said: “I cannot imagine that there would be billions of men getting circumcised if it did.”

The debate is part of wider discussion across northern Europe on the Jewish and Muslim practice. Interest in the topic renewed in 2012, with left-leaning liberals and secularists calling for a ban for humanitarian reasons, and nationalist anti-immigration parties supporting a prohibition because they feel the custom is foreign and barbaric.

Currently, non-medical circumcision of boys is legal in all of Scandinavia, despite calls to ban it.

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