How confusing: remember the story about the convert to Judaism who was trying to compel his adolescent son to be circumcised? I was persuaded by others that the story was almost certainly an urban legend, but now it turns out that there really is a pending court case that fits the particulars. The Oregonian reports the details, but leaves out the names of those involved (the accusation that this was faked was in part based on the similarities of the names to those in a work of fiction with a similar premise; could it be that the fictional names were used because they fit the story?) In addition, they have a quote from an Oregon lawyer defending the father’s right to put his kid through unnecessary cosmetic surgery.
But Julie H. McFarlane, a supervising attorney with the Portland-based Juvenile Rights Project, said that the child’s consent for a medical procedure is not required until he turns 15.
“I think the dad has the legal right as the custodial parent to make those kind of religious or medical decisions,” McFarlane said. “It’s not much different from cosmetic surgery.”
15??? Now they tell me, after my daughter turns 16. Maybe threats to carry out random weird cosmetic operations on her would have been a useful tool for getting her to do the dishes. Now she’s just going to roll her eyes and tell me she won’t sign the consent form, darn it.
I do wonder what has happened to the Hippocratic Oath, though. What doctor would carry out such unnecessary surgery if the child or mother were opposing it? Or is Dad just going to find some quack rabbi who will hack it off under the protection of his synagogue? That’s one easy way around ethical considerations — find someone who will use the imagined word of a god to justify violating them.