Supporting Vancouver Island families to make healthy, safe choices based on scientific evidence
Parents who are researching circumcision in Victoria, BC should consider the matter of consent. It is standard for all surgical procedures to require the informed consent of the patient. In the case of non-therapeutic surgery as it pertains to an infant, the matter becomes more complex.
An understanding of fundamental human rights is required to establish parameters about this topic. Many parents in Victoria, BC are shocked to discover that their child has certain protections under international law which can have an impact on non-therapeutic surgery.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that all humans have a right to
security of the person (Article 3)
to freedom from inhuman, cruel, or degrading treatment (Article 5)
and the rights of motherhood and childhood to special protection (Article 25.2)
all of which are applicable to circumcision.
Some Victoria, BC parents who are looking for information about circumcision may feel that the UDHR may not apply to Canadian infants. These parents should be aware that the Canadian Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms also contains fundamental rights which apply to infant circumcision.
7. Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.
15. (1) Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.
28. Notwithstanding anything in this Charter, the rights and freedoms referred to in it are guaranteed equally to male and female persons.
Circumcision removes a healthy, functional part of the genitalia. The surgery is not medically recommended and carries risks, both guaranteed and potential. Circumcision violates international and national laws protecting human rights. Victoria, BC doctors who solicit or promote the non-therapeutic circumcision of unconsenting infants for financial profit may be legally challenged about this unethical behavior.
In short, consent for a non-therapeutic genital reduction surgery which carries multiple risks, including death, should be given by the person whose body it is when they are of legal age and fully informed. Victoria, BC doctors who are caring and professional will protect the rights of their patients and uphold medical ethics by not performing non-therapeutic circumcisions on unconsenting patients and by supporting the education of their colleagues to that end.