CANADIAN PRESS, Friday, 17 December 2004.

Unkind cut: Dutch medicare halts coverage for male circumcision

Canadian Press

Friday, December 17, 2004

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) - The Dutch national health insurance will no longer pay for male circumcision, the Heath Ministry said Friday.

The ministry decided to halt compensation following reports that up to 90 per cent of circumcisions are carried out for religious, rather than health reasons, as specified in Dutch law, ministry spokesman Bas Kuik said.

Muslims and Jews routinely circumcise boys at birth. Around 8.5 per cent of children born in the Netherlands are circumcised, or about 17,000 a year. The average cost at birth, when there are no complications, is around $650 Cdn.

Female circumcision - sometimes called genital mutilation - is outlawed in the Netherlands, and the government plans a law making it possible to prosecute parents who travel to foreign countries to have their daughters circumcised.

Justice Minister Piet Hein Donner said in October the government has no plans to outlaw male circumcision, which is classified as a cosmetic surgery if not medically necessary.

© The Canadian Press 2004

(File created 17 December 2004)