Circumcision Ethical Dilemma

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A mother of a male newborn has given a signed consent for a circumcision to be performed while her husband had gone home to shower. Upon the fathers arrival, the nurse walked in to take the male newborn for the procedure and the father refused. Since the consent was signed while he was gone he became irate and could not come to an agreement with his wife. The mother of the newborn was Jewish and believed in circumcising following birth and the father had his own beliefs that did not support it.

Identification of Principles from the ANA Code of Ethics

Evidently, this ethical dilemma presents ethical principles such as autonomy, beneficence, fidelity, and veracity. Autonomy is defined when nurses support and respect the decisions patients make or the parent of the patient if under aged. Beneficence has to do with ensuring that the best care is given and doing what is righteous for the patient. Fidelity is the act of being accountable and trustworthy in following through with what is said will be done. Veracity pertains to ensuring patients are told the truth and making sure that all information is relayed despite the anxiety that may be caused (Ethical Practice: NCLEX-RN., n.d.).

ANA Code of Ethics Related Principles

In medical practice autonomy, beneficence and veracity are supported by ensuring proper consent and agreements are brought forth prior to treatment, procedures or investigations (Ethical Practice: NCLEX-RN., n.d.). However, it is important to know that the decisions made by patients or the parents of the patient should not be manipulated by medical staff. It is the duty of the nurse to provide factual information, obtain consent and answer any questions regarding the procedure (Definition of Autonomy, patient., 2017). During this dilemma, there is tension between the mother and father of the newborn, an important role of a nurse is to make an effort of creating a calm and peaceful environment. Part of creating this calm atmosphere is to ensure parents are educated properly on the purpose of circumcision and what is to be expected. This can be a sensitive matter due to the mother of the newborn feeling strongly about her religious background that supports her decision on her newborn having a circumcision performed. Health care professionals are to maintain their personal aspects and be respectful of the distinctiveness of each patient.

Dilemma Outcome

The mother of the newborn supported Judaism beliefs (Genesis 17: 9-14) which indicated that Abraham was instructed by God that he should circumcise himself as well as all of the men in home (Religions - Judaism: Circumcision., 2009). Therefore, based upon her beliefs she felt it was important to circumcise, yet her husband still refused and did not believe the same. The then nurse informed the physician about the parents opposing perspectives in regard to the procedure and left it up to his discretion to make a decision about moving forward or not since consent was only given by the mother. According to LaMance, K. (2018), each state has their own laws about requiring one parental consent versus both. In many cases some healthcare providers will not proceed with treatment or procedures if there is one objecting parent because of the concern of having a law suit filed against them (LaMance, K., 2018). As a result, the healthcare provider recommended for the parents to come to a full agreement in order for the procedure to take place or not.

Clinical Agency to Assist Dealing with Ethical Dilemmas

In this matter, for the newborn circumcision can be seen as not a medical necessity the goal of the hospital to offer unprejudiced information regarding the procedure. It is the responsibility of the nurse to ask if the parents want the procedure to be performed and to provde teaching about what to expect and answer any questions of the circumcision. The healthcare provider may also answer any questions or concerns but is not to persuade parents to make a decision upon their own perspective. Autonomy plays a major role in this matter because it indicates respect for patient decisions.

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Circumcision Ethical Dilemma. (2019, May 08). Retrieved October 2, 2023 , from

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