Despite Norwegian law requiring hospitals to perform ritual circumcisions on male infants, at least two hospitals recently refused to perform the procedure.
The Stavanger Aftenblad regional newspaper reported on Monday that Stavanger University Hospital in the country’s west and Haukeland University Hospital in Bergen would not perform the non-medical circumcision of boys younger than three years. This contravenes a Norwegian law enacted in 2015 which legally obliged the hospitals to either provide the service or a provide a contractor to perform non-medical circumcision.
At Akershus University Hospital (Ahus) northeast of Oslo, fully 13 of its 15 urologists resonded to the law by submitting written statements reserving themselves against performing circumcision. In an interview in 2015 with News in English, a Norwegian news service, Dr. Frode Steinar Nilsen, a urologist at Ahus, called circumcision “a surgical operation with no health advantages and one that, as with all surgery, carries with it a risk and a burden for the child. That’s why we don’t want to perform it.”
Ritual circumcision has been the focus of fierce debate in several Nordic countries. In April, Iceland chose not to vote on a bill that would have outlawed ritual infant circumcision. In June, a petition to calling to outlaw the practice garnered the necessary 50,000 signatures in Denmark. The petition described circumcision as a form of abuse and corporal punishment, equating it with female genital mutilation.
The Bible commands Jews to circumcise their male children on the eighth day of life.
And throughout the generations, every male among you shall be circumcised at the age of eight days. Genesis 17:12
It is largely due to anti-Semitic stigma and circumcision as an expression of religious freedom that no European nation has outlawed the practice since World War II. Before Glastnost in the 1980’s circumcision was outlawed in the Soviet Union as a method of repressing Jewish practice.