A one-week-old Ontario infant died from complications after undergoing a circumcision in a provincial hospital. The baby, whose name has been withheld by the parents, passed away after his kidneys became enlarged to seven times their normal size.
The child was born at an unidentified Ontario hospital and the doctors said that he was born sometime in the last three years and the family wants to keep it anonymous. According to the Pediatric Child Health article, the boy was “bottle-fed” and was reported to be doing well when he was circumcised. Five hours later, the parents returned to their family doctor with the infant, who had become “irritable and had blue discoloration” below the belly button. Doctors noticed the discoloration and slight swelling of the penis, but sent the child home.
Fourteen hours after the circumcision, according to the parents, the child was brought to another hospital where doctors noted he was extremely irritable with marked swelling of the penis and bruising to the scrotum. The child was then transferred to a pediatric centre, where his bladder was diagnosed, doctors said that it was even or eight times its normal size. “If the Plastic Bell had been taken off five hours after he got there, he would be alive,” said Doctors. The child’s death was attributed to septic shock — “an overwhelming infection, leading to multi-organ failure.” The case was brought to Cairns’ attention because the circumstances of every death of an Ontario child under five years of age must be reviewed by the provincial coroner’s office. When the parents were asked about the reason of circumcision they said the following: “It’s our religious practice and we can’t ignore it. We have our rights to follow our own religious practices.” When the case was brought to the court, it involved a doctor accused of carrying out a circumcision on a week-old child that led to medical complications. The doctor was acquitted, however, and prosecutors said they won't appeal. As this was a Jews child, the leader of the Jews called the ruling "unprecedented and insensitive," urging the country's parliament to clarify the legal situation "to protect religious freedom against attacks." The hearings of this case are still going on in the courts of Canada, but the child has yet not got justice.
After reading this case, the first thing which strikes my mind was this: Female genital circumcision is totally banned in Canada even if the procedure takes place due to religious traditions. Thus, the girls are protected against circumcision. But on the same issue, there are no protections for the boys and infants. Muslims are still the largest single religious group to circumcise boys. In Canada female circumcision is totally banned but, yet there is prevalence of male circumcision. There are yet many Muslim boys in Canada who are being circumcised on a daily basis. The main reason given for the ritual is cleanliness.
I am continually baffled at the seemingly endless array of problems that routine infant circumcision is supposed to “cure” or “prevent.” First it was masturbation in the Victorian era, then cancer, then HIV and now cancer again. The procedure itself does not treat any medical condition in infants and children and is therefore unethical, as removing healthy, normal, functional tissue from an infant for no medical reason is a clear violation of the doctor’s oath to “do no harm.”
Girls in this country are protected from having any part of their genitals removed or altered without medical necessity but to refuse the same protection to baby boys is sex-based discrimination. Circumcising a boy without a just reason is a clear violation of charter rights and freedoms. Even though male circumcision is banned in many of the other countries, it is yet not banned in Canada. Although the girls of Canada are protected from circumcision, the boys are yet not protected from being the victim of