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Marked in Your FleshCircumcision from Ancient Judea to Modern America$
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Leonard B. Glick

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780195176742

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2005

DOI: 10.1093/019517674X.001.0001

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(p.273) Epilogue
Marked in Your Flesh

Leonard B. Glick

Oxford University Press

The circumcision debate resolves into two fundamental questions. First, is circumcision an effective medical procedure, with potential benefits outweighing harm? Second, do parents have the right to make this kind of decision for a child? It is argued that the possible benefits, questionable at best, are convincingly outbalanced by the well-documented harmful effects: pain and its aftermath, including possible damage to central nervous system organization; permanent loss of highly sensitive foreskin tissue; and complications ranging from hemorrhage and infection to gangrene and accidental amputation of the glans. As for parental rights, it is argued that no one owns another person’s body, and parents, including Jewish Americans, do not have the right to impose nonessential genital alteration on an infant or child who is incapable of granting consent.

Keywords:   circumcision, foreskin, pain, infancy, children’s rights, Jewish Americans

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