Circumcision Policies of International Organizations

14 circumcision policies of international organizations oppose it for the following combined reasons: violation of physical integrity, risk to physical and mental health, loss of valuable body part, no medical need, violation of human rights and medical ethical principles, complications, adverse sexual and psychological effects, extreme pain, and no potential health benefits.


2020 Danish Medical Association
  • When parents have their male children circumcised, it robs the boys of the ability to make decisions about their own bodies and their own cultural and religious beliefs. Male circumcision carries a risk of complications and should only be performed on children when there is a documented medical need.
2019 British Medical Association
  • Parental preference alone does not constitute sufficient grounds for performing (non-therapeutic male circumcision) NTMC on a child unable to express his own view.”. . .“The BMA considers that the evidence concerning health benefit from NTMC is insufficient for this alone to be a justification for boys undergoing circumcision.”. . .“There are clearly risks as with any surgical procedure: for example, pain, bleeding, surgical mishap and complications of anesthesia. With NTMC there are associated medical and psychological risks.”
2017 Belgian Government Committee for Bio-Ethics
  • The Belgian government Committee for Bio-Ethics has ruled against the circumcision of infant boys for reasons other than medical necessity. Its ruling states that bodily integrity is more important than religious faith.
2016 Doctors Opposing Circumcision
  • “There is no medical reason for infant circumcision.”. . . “The foreskin is a normal, healthy, valuable part of the human body.”. . . “Circumcision entails a wide array of physical risks and emotional impacts, and detrimentally alters sexuality.”. . . “DOC urges all health care professionals to take their ethical obligations seriously by refusing to participate in infant circumcision.”
2015 Canadian Pediatric Society
  • Circumcision of newborn males should not be routinely performed.
2014 Swedish Medical Association
  • The Sweden Medical Association, which counts 85% of the country’s physicians as members, recommended setting twelve as the minimum age for the procedure and requiring a boy’s consent in a resolution which was unanimously passed by the ethics council, reported the Svenska Dagbladet.
2014 Danish College of General Practitioners
  • The Danish College of General Practitioners, a group with 3,000 members, made a statement that ritual circumcision of boys was tantamount to abuse and mutilation, according to Danish newspaper BT.
2013 Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (Representing 47 countries)
  • “One category [of children’s harm] is particulary worrisome, namely violations of the physical integrity of children which supporters tend to present as beneficial to the children themselves despite evidently negative life-long consequences in many cases: female genital mutilation, the circumcision of young boys for religious reasons, medical interventions during the early childhood of intersex children as well as the submission to or coercion of children into piercings, tattoos or plastic surgery. The Parliamentary Assembly should urge member States to promote further awareness in their societies of the potential risks for children’s physical and mental health of the above-mentioned procedures. Member States should take legislative and policy measures that help reinforce child protection in this context by giving primary consideration to the best interest of the child.”
2013 Nordic Association of Clinical Sexologists
  • “As clinical sexologists, we are concerned about the human rights aspects associated with the practice of non-therapeutic circumcision of young boys. To cut off the penile foreskin in a boy with normal, healthy, genitalia deprives him of his right to grow up and make his own informed decision. Unless there are compelling medical reasons to operate before a boy reaches an age and a level of maturity at which he is capable of providing informed consent, the decision to alter the appearance, sensitivity and functionality of the penis should be left to its owner, thus upholding his fundamental rights to protection and bodily integrity.”
2013 Nordic Ombudsmen for Children and Pediatric Experts
  • “Circumcision, performed without a medical indication, on a person who is incapable of giving consent, violates fundamental medical – ethical principles, not least because the procedure is irreversible, painful and may cause serious complications. There are no health – related reasons for circumcising young boys in the Nordic countries. Circumstances that may make circumcision advantageous for adult men are of little relevance to young boys in the Nordic countries, and on these matters the boys will have the opportunity to decide for themselves when they reach the age and maturity required to give consent.”
2012 Swedish Pediatric Society
  • Circumcision of young boys for religious and non-medical reasons ought to be banned in Sweden. “We consider it to be an assault on these boys,” said Staffan Janson, chairman of the committee for ethical issues and childrens’ rights. Children are unable to form a decision in the matter. Circumcision is an attack on boys’ integrity. “It’s such a complicated and difficult question, but even so, we’ve decided that this is a procedure to be done away with,” Janson said.”It’s a mutilation of a child unable to decide for himself.”
2012 German Pediatric Association
  • “Initially, it should be observed that there is no reason from a medical point of view to remove an intact foreskin from underage boys or boys unable to give consent. . . . The male foreskin is a part of the skin of the organ and fulfills important functions that protect the very sensitive glans. . . . Circumcision can lead to erectile dysfunction [and] . . . considerable limitations to sex life and cause psychological stresses. . . . Boys have, according to our sense of justice, the same basic constitutional legal rights to physical integrity as girls, they must not be disadvantaged due to their sex.”
2010 Royal Australasian College of Physicians
  • “Ethical and human rights concerns have been raised regarding elective infant male circumcision because it is recognized that the foreskin has a functional role, the operation is non-therapeutic and the infant is unable to consent. After reviewing the currently available evidence, the RACP believes that the frequency of diseases modifiable by circumcision, the level of protection offered by circumcision and the complication rates of circumcision do not warrant routine infant circumcision in Australia and New Zealand.”
  • “The foreskin has two main functions. Firstly it exists to protect the glans penis. Secondly the foreskin is a primary sensory part of the penis, containing some of the most sensitive areas of the penis.”
  • “The potential harms include contravention of individual rights, loss of choice, loss of function, procedural and psychological complications. . . . A boy circumcised as an infant may deeply resent this when he grows older; he may want what he cannot have – not to have been circumcised. . . . The option of leaving circumcision until later, when the boy is old enough to make a decision for himself does need to be raised with parents and considered. . . . The ethical merit of this option is that it seeks to respect the child’s physical integrity, and capacity for autonomy by leaving the options open for him to make his own autonomous choice in the future.”
2010 Royal Dutch Medical Association
  • “There is no convincing evidence that circumcision is useful or necessary in terms of prevention or hygiene. Partly in light of the complications which can arise during or after circumcision, circumcision is not justifiable except on medical/therapeutic grounds. . . . Contrary to what is often thought, circumcision entails the risk of medical and psychological complications. . . . Non-therapeutic circumcision of male minors is contrary to the rule that minors may only be exposed to medical treatments if illness or abnormalities are present. . . . Non-therapeutic circumcision of male minors conflicts with the child’s right to autonomy and physical integrity. . . . Complications in the area of sexuality have also been reported as have extreme pain experiences in newborns causing behavioral changes which are still apparent years later. Similarly, the high social costs of circumcision  as a result of complications have been cited. . . . The foreskin is a complex, erotogenic structure that plays an important role in the mechanical function of the penis during sexual acts, such as penetrative intercourse and masturbation. The many attempts by men to restore their foreskins by mechanical or surgical means also contradict the idea that the foreskin is a useless part of the body.”
No national medical organization in the world recommends
routine circumcision of male infants.