Doctor accused of amputating boy’s penis during ritual circumcision

Posted: Tue, 18th Jun 2024

Australian doctor allegedly "pressed on with ritual prayers" despite appearing concerned "something had gone wrong"

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A doctor in Australia has been accused of amputating a baby's penis during a ritual circumcision.

Dr Hershel Goldman, a GP in Melbourne, 'amputated or partially amputated' the penis of a seven day old baby, known as "Patient 2", according to the Medical Board of Australia.

He also circumcised another seven day old baby, known as "Patient 1", who required "hospitalisation and an emergency blood transfusion".

In April, the Board took 'immediate action' to ban Goldman from carrying out circumcisions.

Immediate action can be taken when the practitioner poses a "serious risk" and it is necessary to "protect public health or safety".

Last week, it emerged Goldman had failed at a tribunal to overturn the ban, pending a review of the Board's decision later this year.

Non-consensual circumcision of boys is a common practice among Jewish and Muslim communities, who believe it to be a religious requirement. In Jewish communities, boys are typically circumcised within days of birth.

Goldman "pressed on with ritual prayers" despite amputation

In the case of Patient 2, Goldman allegedly performed the circumcision without written consent, "rushed the procedure", performed it in "poor lighting", and "pressed on with ritual prayers" for several minutes despite appearing concerned that "something had gone wrong".

Goldman maintained a "partial not full amputation occurred", and said it was "explicable" he did not immediately recognise what had happened.

The Board said there was "contrary evidence" indicating it was a full amputation and Goldman "inappropriately did not immediately respond".

Goldman acknowledged the amputation arose "by virtue of an error" he made in the performing the procedure.

It is alleged he had "no procedures in place" to manage the emergency.

Baby required emergency blood transfusion following circumcision

In the case of Patient 1, Goldman allegedly told the family not to remove the child's nappy for four hours after the circumcision, advice which the Board said would be "clearly inappropriate".

It is claimed he then left the family's home "providing no on-call coverage".

When the family contacted Goldman four hours later after discovering "significant bleeding", he is said to have advised them to travel to a hospital "40 minutes away".

Instead, the family took the boy to a closer hospital where he required stitches and an emergency blood transfusion.

Goldman claimed bleeding "requiring suturing is not (itself) a sign of any error".

Tribunal: Patient safety is "paramount"

The Board said the results of both circumcisions, which occurred in "relatively short succession", were "extremely serious", with "potential lifelong impact" for Patient 2.

Allowing Goldman to continue circumcising, without established why the complications had occurred, risked "extreme harm" to another baby.

Despite both cases happening within months of one another, Goldman submitted he "does not present a serious risk to the public".

He said the ban would have a "devastating financial impact" on him and his family: Income from circumcisions generates "more than half" of his income and the financial loss would be "irreparable".

Goldman has performed approximately 20,000 circumcisions over 40 years and claims "Judaism believes that without circumcision the Soul suffers pain".

Upholding the ban, the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal stated patient safety is "paramount" and a reduction in income did not support a stay on the ban.

It said a "grave injury" had been done to the two babies and noted the "inherent risks" of surgery.

In conclusion, it said, the "protection of the public" outweighs Goldman's "personal interest" in continuing his circumcision practice.

NSS: Cases "lay bare the life-threatening dangers of ritual circumcision"

NSS human rights lead Dr Alejandro Sanchez said: "These dreadful cases lay bare the life-threatening dangers of ritual circumcision.

"The Tribunal is absolutely right that patient safety must be paramount.

"The only way to ensure this is to legally protect boys from forced genital cutting. Religious beliefs, no matter how deeply held, cannot justify this painful, permanent and dangerous procedure on non-consenting babies and children."

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