Navigate to News section

Norway’s Nurses Campaign For Circumcision Ban

Health Minister says he doesn’t plan to outlaw the practice

Stephanie Butnick
March 21, 2014

While Norway announced plans to introduce anti-circumcision legislation in early 2014, so far no such bills have been brought forward. While the country’s health ministry says they will issue new guidelines before the summer—which Health Minister Bent Hoie maintains will not include outlawing the practice—a group of Norwegian nurses are pushing for a ban on non-medical circumcision for males under 15 years old.

JTA reports that the Norwegian Nurses Organization met with members of the health ministry to make their case for a country-wide ban on ritual circumcision, with the director of the group likening the practice to female circumcision and arguing that boys should be able to decide, at 15 or 16 years old, whether or not to undergo the rite.

Given the relatively low number of circumcisions that performed in Norway each year—a few months ago Aftenposten estimated the figure to be around 2,000 Muslim and just seven Jewish newborns annually—it’s hard to not see this as a religiously motivated campaign. The Norwegian Nurses Organization director essentially admitted as much, saying in an interview that though “the Jews are a small group in Norway, they have been allowed to influence the debate on this issue.”

The nurses’ request was met with deaf ears—for now. According to JTA, “In an interview for Aftenposten Wednesday, Health Minister Bent Hoie said his draft for the regulations proposes all circumcisions take place in hospitals but that he has no plans to ban the practice.”

Stephanie Butnick is chief strategy officer of Tablet Magazine, co-founder of Tablet Studios, and a host of the Unorthodox podcast.

Become a Member of Tablet

Get access to exclusive conversations, our custom app, and special perks from our favorite Jewish artists, creators, and businesses. You’ll not only join our community of editors, writers, and friends—you’ll be helping us rebuild this broken world.