Logically, its sexual assault regardless of parents consent. If I go around cutting people I will be charged with assault regardless of parents consent.

Cant the doctors just be charged with sexual assault since there was never any loophole where circumcision became not sexual assault? Why is circumcision not prosecuted but other forms of sexual assault are?

If surgery is ok, then what law authorizes surgery and are surgeons allowed to do literally anything to kids with parental consent? Can a surgeon eg chop your arm off for fun? Is there a specific law saying a medical reason is an acceptable defense to assault?


Surgery is not assault when consent is given. Surgery on an infant requires the consent of a parent, who generally are legally entrusted with the right to give consent on behalf of the child (assuming they haven't have that right taken away by the court). Circumcision on an infant without parental consent is assault, unless it is a medical necessity. Also, "sexual assault" is a legal term of art which depends on jurisdiction -- it isn't necessarily "sexual assault" since it involves no penetration or sexual gratification. We'd have to look at the laws of the jurisdiction that you had in mind to see if e.g. unconsented adult circumcision is deemed sexual assault.

| improve this answer | |
  • Is there a specific law saying a medical reason is a defense – Jeanette Pombriant Jul 18 at 1:54

No, there are no statutes that exempt surgeons from assault laws. That is because surgeons, like all doctors, are licensed by the state.

License: a permission granted by competent authority to engage in...an activity otherwise unlawful

In other words, their medical license gives surgeons legal permission to do things the rest of us can’t.

What exactly the license permits surgeons to do, and under what conditions, is heavily regulated. As long they obey those regulations, surgeons are exempt from the assault laws. However, if they violate those regulations, they face a variety of punishments. They may even be charged with assault.

The requirements surgeons must satisfy in order to legally practice medicine include:

  1. Licenses: All doctors, including surgeons, must be licensed by the state. There are a host of laws, regulations and professional standards that say in detail what this license permits surgeons to do. For example, they do not give surgeons permission to "chop off your arm just for fun."
  1. Informed Consent: All medical procedures, including surgeries, require informed consent. There are a handful of exceptions, such as in an emergency, but informed consent is the general rule.
  1. Consent for Incompetents: In cases where someone cannot (is incompetent to) give informed consent, the law specifies who can give consent for them. In general, parents are allowed to give consent for their children.
  1. Punishments: Medical care providers, including surgeons, who provide bad care that breaks laws, or violates professional standards, face a variety of punishments. These range from going to jail, to paying for damages to losing their license.

Many people argue that surgeons should not be allowed to perform circumcisions. There have even been attempts to make circumcisions illegal.

| improve this answer | |

First of all, the fact that a circumcision is a common medical procedure which has been performed for literally thousands of years is what distinguishes circumcision from "chopping off an arm".

Similarly, when a gynecologist performs a pelvic examination (which does include vaginal penetration), it is not considered assault unless it is done in a lewd or provocative manner.

Secondly, consent for both of these procedures is given by the patient or guardian (in this case, the parents) which is what distinguishes medical care from battery.

| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.