Routine Neonatal Circumcision:
Symbol of the Birth of the Therapeutic State.

Thomas Szasz

Presented at
The Third International Symposium on Circumcision,
University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland
May 22-25, 1994.

Abstract. The religious justification for male circumcision by Jewish and Islamic parents is frequently overlooked in current secular (medical/hygienic) discussions that

(1) challenge the moral justification of this ancient practice, and
(2) question the decisions of today's parents who are committed, on the basis of their religious beliefs, to continue this practice.
This paper reviews critically these conflicting values and arguments and calls for compromise in the face of potential state intervention to coerce parents to abandon this practice.

Key Words: disease prevention, medicalization, mutilation, religious values, routine neonatal circumcision, therapeutic state.

This paper, first presented at the Third International Symposium on Circumcision in 1994, later was published in The Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 21:137-148, 1996, and copyrighted by Kluwer Academic Publishers.

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