Hymen (re)construction and nontherapeutic male circumcision are medical nonindicated interventions that give rise to specific ethical concerns. In Europe, hymen (re)construction is generally more contested among medical professionals than male circumcision. Yet, from a standard biomedical framework, guided by the principles of autonomy, beneficence, nonmaleficence, and justice, circumcision of boys is, as this article explains, more problematic than hymen (re-) construction. While there is a growing debate on the acceptability of infant circumcision, in the case of competent minors and adults the surgery is not questioned. In the case of hymenoplasty, usually requested by a competent patient, it is recommended to only perform the operation after extensive counseling and if there are compelling conditions. The article further explores why attitudes of medical professionals toward both surgeries diverge and seeks to explain how this is largely informed by gendered and socio-cultural understandings. The article further raises critical questions on medical paternalism and the role of counseling.
- gender, culture, male circumcision, hymen (re)construction, Professional Ethics in Medicine