The hospital announced on Thursday that it would cease providing the surgical procedure in non-medical cases while it weighed the legal and ethical concerns. The moratorium follows a ruling by a regional court in Cologne on June 26th. The court declared that a doctor performing a circumcision on a four-year-old Muslim boy had compromised the physical integrity of the child. The decision sparked an angry backlash from Jewish and Muslim groups who claim the ruling amounts to an attack on religious freedom. On the same day as the Zurich hospital announced its decision, Germany’s lower house of parliament approved a resolution to protect the religious circumcision of infant boys. German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government also pledged to bring in new legislation to ensure that neither doctors nor families will be criminally charged for carrying out the procedure. But the Zurich hospital maintains it is concerned about the ethics of surgery over which children are unable to provide their views and for which it may be liable to charges of assault. Rita Gobet, head of urology, said in a statement issued on the hospital’s website that management decided on the moratorium to allow for a legal assessment and advice from ethics experts on the issue.
The Zurich children's hospital usually performs one circumcision every month or two.
The moratorium does not affect the removal of foreskins for medical reasons.