The anti-circumcision wave may have come to a stop in Germany but it's picking up speed in Switzerland. Two Swiss hospitals have announced that they will suspend circumcision of infants unless it's medically required.
Last month a German court in Cologne ruled against non-medical circumcision on the grounds that it constituted irreversible damage to the baby's body.
According to Swiss media, a Zurich children's hospital announced last week it will abstain from performing the procedure and this weekend St. Gall teaching hospital joined the wagon. "We are in the process of evaluating the legal and ethical stance in Switzerland," Marco Stuecheli, spokesman for the Zurich hospital, told AFP.
"There can be complicated cases where the mother of a child wants a circumcision but the father is opposed to it."
The development is unlikely to affect the practice of circumcision in Switzerland, where it can be done in any hospital for a fee, the spokesman said.
"Most Jewish patients go to specialist doctors known within their community," the spokesman said, adding that the hospital performed "only one or two circumcisions for religious reasons per month".
The dispute over the Jewish/Muslim ritual has flared up again due to a German court ruling last month which branded non-medical circumcision "a severe, irreversible intervention in the completeness of the human body." The ruling, whose implications are yet unclear, has enraged Jewish and Muslim organizations alike.
German politicians were quick to respond and German Chancellor Angela Merkel personally
spoke against the anti-circumcision stance. "I don't want Germany to be the only country in the world where Jews can't perform their rituals," she told her party members and added that the court ruling could make a "laughing stock" of Germany.
A few days earlier Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert, clarified that the German government intends to find a way to by-pass the ruling. "It's clear to everyone in the government that we want to enable Jews and Muslims in Germany to lead a religious life. Circumcision at an early age is highly significant in Jewish religion and it's pressing that Jews will be able to practice this custom again .We can’t postpone it. Freedom of religion is a highly important legal right."