My child, my choice

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"My child, my choice" is a claim said by some parents who want to justify their decision to have their child circumcised without any medical indication.

Parental responsibility

In almost every country in the world, parents are primarily responsible for their children. This responsibility is also referred to as parental rights in many legal bases and constitutions. Parental rights relate primarily to the care of the children, their upbringing and protection. Thus, the parental right as a proxy right is above all a parental obligation to protect the children from harm.


Parental rights are never unlimited. For example, if the child's life is threatened and therefore urgent medical treatment is required, parents cannot object to this treatment. For example, Jehovah's Witnesses cannot ban medically urgently needed blood transfusions for their children (although many try to). In many nations, violence against children is also forbidden by law already and no longer covered by any parental right of education.

Illegal consent

On the other hand, parents acting as representatives of their children cannot ethically consent to operations that are not medically necessary.[1] [2]

  • The latest stratagem to obtain consent is to send nurses into the room to ask the mother if she wants her newborn circumcised. This is done repeatedly, in hope of breaking a mother's will.[3] This is misunderstood by some parents. Especially in societies where the child's right to physical integrity is still often disregarded by medical staff in clinics and hospitals, since circumcision is very profitable, many parents believe that the doctors are not doing anything wrong. In addition, doctors often ask parents to consent to operations on their children that are not medically necessary. Most parents will not know that doctors have no legal right to request this surrogate consent. Such consent to operations on children that are not medically necessary is invalid per se; the doctor and parents are liable to prosecution.[4]

See also


  1. REFjournal Bioethics Committee, American Academy of Pediatrics.. Informed consent, parental permission, and assent in pediatric practice. Pediatrics. February 1995; 95(2): 314-7. PMID. Retrieved 17 March 2023.
    Quote: Such providers have legal and ethical duties to their child patients to render competent medical care based on what the patient needs, not what someone else expresses.
  2. REFjournal Myers A, Earp BD. What is the best age to circumcise? A medical and ethical analysis. J Biosoc Sci. September 2020; 34(7): 560-72. PMID. DOI. Retrieved 22 May 2023.
  3. REFweb Chapin, Georganne (16 November 2020). Press Release: Having a Baby Boy? Get Ready for the Circumcision Sellers!, Intact America. Retrieved 22 May 2023.
  4. REFjournal Adler PW. Is circumcision legal? PDF. Richmond Journal of Law and the Public Interest. 2013; 16(3): 439-86. Retrieved 5 May 2023.