Charges dropped in circumcision case

Charges against parents who subjected their week-old son to circumcision without anaesthetic have been dropped by the Helsinki Court of Appeal. The ruling, handed down on Wednesday 30th March, concluded that the boy’s legal guardians were not guilty of incitement to assault and battery when allowing an English rabbi with no medical training to perform the traditional Jewish procedure on their newborn son.

The operation resulted in the hospitalisation of the boy due to prolonged bleeding. A fine and compensation payment handed down by the District Court were however dismissed at last week’s hearing, YLE reports.

The operation was performed in a Jewish facility in Helsinki in 2008 without any form of pain relief. The action of the parents was deemed by the District Court to be incitement, as they employed another to carry out the task.

It has now been decided, however, that as circumcisions have long been permitted and there is no legislation against it in Finnish law, the practice enjoys a kind of approval by customary law as a long established Jewish tradition. The court also noted that, at the time the event took place, there was no legal precedent in such cases and the legal status of circumcision was unclear.

Since then, the Supreme Court has ruled that circumcisions for religious reasons are not criminal. In the case that led to the ruling, however, the procedure had been carried out by a medical doctor who issued the boy with anaesthetic before the operation.