JTA — One of Germany’s 16 states has declared circumcision legal, but only if performed by doctors — not, as required by Jewish law, by mohels.
Berlin, Germany’s capital and itself a state, is the first to declare the practice legal following a Cologne court ruling in June that non-medical circumcisions on children amounted to a criminal offense, according to DPA, a German news wire. National legislation is pending to legalize circumcision.
State Justice Minister Thomas Heilmann made the announcement Wednesday, saying he felt it necessary to allay fears in this “difficult transitional period,” the Associated Press reported.
The Berlin state has authorized only doctors, and not mohels, to perform circumcisions. National legislation could authorize mohels. The state also required that parents be informed of the procedure’s medical risks before consenting, and that doctors do everything possible during the procedure to reduce pain and limit bleeding.
June’s court ruling led many doctors to stop performing circumcisions in order to avoid being prosecuted. So far, complaints based on the ruling have been filed against two rabbis, although one complaint was dropped last week.