The British Medical Association's ethical guidelines - References

the law & ethics of male circumcision - guidance for doctors

Notes and references
1 By "therapeutic" we mean that the procedure is necessary to deal specifically with a medical problem. By "non-therapeutic" we mean that the procedure is for any other purpose than medical benefit.

2 Female genital mutilation is a separate issue. The BMA's views on the issue are published in British Medical Association. Female genital mutilation. Caring for patients and child protection. London: BMA, 2001.

3 General Medical Council. Guidance for doctors who are asked to circumcise male children. London: GMC, 1997.

4 The term "parents" is used in these guidelines to indicate holders of parental responsibility. Both of a child's parents have parental responsibility if they were married at the time of the child's conception, or at some time thereafter. Neither parent loses parental responsibility if they divorce. If the parents have never married, only the mother automatically has parental responsibility. The father may acquire it in various ways, including by entering into a parental responsibility agreement with the mother, or through a parental responsibility order made by a court. Additionally in Northern Ireland, fathers who are named on the child's birth certificate (from 15 April 2002 onwards) automatically have parental responsibility. Similar arrangements will apply in England and Wales once the relevant provisions of the Adoption and Children Act 2002 come into force. At the time of writing, there is no definite timescale for this. Scotland has also indicated its intention to introduce theses arrangements. Information about any changes will be put on the BMA's website. Clearly where a child has only one parent with parental responsibility, that person is responsible for decision making, although his or her views may not be determinative.

5 British Association of Paediatric Surgeons, Royal College of Nursing, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, Royal College of Surgeons of England and Royal College of Anaesthetists. Statement on male circumcision. London: Royal College of Surgeons of England, March 2001.

6 Ibid.

7 R v Brown [1993] 2 All ER 75, HL, per Lord Templeman.

8 Re J (A Minor) (Prohibited Steps Order: Circumcision), sub nom Re J (Child's Religious Upbringing and Circumcision) and Re J (Specific Issue Orders: Muslim Upbringing & Circumcision) [2000] 1 FLR 571; [2000] 1 FCR 307; [2000] 52 BMLR 82.

9 Law Commission. Consent in the criminal law. Law Commission consultation paper no 139. London: HMSO, 1995: 119, 128.

10 Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (4. ix. 1950; TS 71; Cmnd 8969).

11 United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (20. xi. 1989; TS 44; Cm 1976) Article 24(3).

12 Re J (A Minor) (Prohibited Steps Order: Circumcision), Op cit.

13 Based on checklist in British Medical Association. Consent, rights and choices in health care for children and young people. London: BMJ Books, 2001: ch 1.

14 Re J (A Minor) (Prohibited Steps Order: Circumcision), Op cit.

15 General Medical Council. Guidance for doctors who are asked to circumcise male children. Op cit.
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