Issues Analogous to Circumcision in Law



1. Prosecution for piercing cat's ear in England
2. Move to ban docking of dogs' tails in Western Australia...
3. ...and in Israel.
4. Doctor struck off for agreeing to circumcise girls - claims he agreed to cut boys.
5. Man charged for docking puppies' tails in New Zealand
6. Man charged in Cleveland for trying to shape his son's head to be more like his own
7. Challenges to theft of other tissue
8. Man charged for voluntary castration
9. Legal restriction on taking blood samples of non-consenting adults
10. Law gives animals more protection than baby boys.
11. Scientist suspended for cutting mouse tail tips without anaesthetic.

Related stories on other pages:
1. Oklahoma couple charged with putting hogring in boy's penis
2. Man charged for cropping dog's ears (disturbing picture)
3. Judge rules consent required for hair-cutting
4. Surgeon convicted of branding patients' livers

1. Cruelty in England

UK court convicts couple for piercing cat's ear

LONDON, Dec 23 1999 [Reuters] - An English couple lay within a whisker of gaol terms on Thursday after a court found them guilty of animal cruelty for giving their cat Tigger the ultimate pet accessory - a pierced ear.

Bradford Magistrates Court was told the fake diamond stud had left the cat in a flap. It was due to sentence Simon and Melanie Whittaker later on Thursday.

The couple face a potential maximum six-month gaol term and a 5,000 ($US 8,053) fine.

The RSPCA [Royal Society for the Protection of Animals] embraced the ruling, saying the pair should never be allowed to have pets again.

"We'll be looking for them to be banned from keeping animals ever again," an RSPCA spokeswoman said. "It was very cruel and unnecessary and we are happy they have been found guilty.

From the Leeds Evening Post,
December 24, 1999 (p9)

Whittaker [31] was found guilty of two charges of animal cruelty - one for piercing Tigger and one for not seeking veterinary attention. His wife Melanie, 41, was found guilty of not seeking veterinary attention for the cat.

From the Yorkshire Post,
December 24, 1999 (p4)

Vet Graham Codd, who examined Tigger, said the cat was in extreme pain. "The ear was swollen and inflamed.

"I have never seen anything like it before. It would have been extremely painful."

Mr Codd said the ear was a very sensitive part, made up of a layer of cartilage between two layers of skin.

The couple were fined 200 ($US320) and 100 ($US160) in February 2000, and forbidden to own any pets for two years. Simon Whittaker was put on probation and threatened with prison if he breached its terms.

Bradford has set up a baby circumcision centre funded by the National Health Service.


2. Dogs may be protected in Western Australia...

The West Australian
February 8, 2000
Tail-docked puppies
Shorter : Jo Lamm with tail-docked
boxer pups and mother Chloe.
Labour wants ban
on tail docking

By Sean Cowan
THE State Opposition has called for major amendments to the Government's new Animal Welfare Bill, including one which would outlaw the tail docking of dogs except for medical reasons.
   Labour animal welfare spokesman Mark McGowan said tail docking was cruel and was acceptable only in certain circumstances, such as injury to the tail.
   But Ken Friday, who has bred fox terriors for 28 years, said tail docking prevented the dog ending up on the operating table later in life.
   "If the tails get damaged they have to have them removed later on, so we are saving them that trauma."
   Puppies were usually docked when they were only two days old, before nerve sensitivity had developed, he said.
   Forty-three working dog breeds had their tails docked, including old english sheep dogs, terriers and gun dogs.
   Mr McGowan also called for changes to the way the RSPCA operated. He also said an overriding duty of care should apply to the Bill.

The infant circumcision rate in Western Australia in 1999 was 6.4%.

3. ... and are in Israel

Jerusalem Post:
December 5, 2000 / 8 Kislev 5761

New law prohibits clipping pets' tails, ears
By Nina Gilbert

MKs [Members of the Knesset or Parliament] showed yesterday that they are concerned not only about elections, but also about the suffering of animals. The snipping of the body tissue of animals, such as tails and ears, for beautification purposes was banned by the Knesset last night, under an amendment to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Law.

The maximum penalty for violation of the law - which also applies to veterinarians - is three years' imprisonment.

The law, initiated by MK Zevulun Or-Lev (National Religious Party) said owners decide how their pets should look without taking into consideration the "great suffering" the animals endure in the process. Commonly, he said, the tails and ears of pure-bred dogs are cut to achieve success in pet shows.

Voting against the law were three Shinui MKs. Yossi Paritzky called the law "ridiculous."

The infant circumcision rate in Israel is close to 100%.


4. Doctor struck off for agreeing to circumcise girls - claims he agreed to cut boys.

The Independent (London)
20 Dec 2000
Jeremy Laurance, Health Editor

A GP who was caught on film offering to carry out an illegal circumcision on an 8-year old girl was struck off the medical register yesterday.

The General Medical Council found Dr Abdul Ahmed guilty of serious professional misconduct after he offered to perform the operation for 50. The GMC dismissed Dr Ahmed's claim that he believed he was discussing the circumcision of boys.

Dr Ahmed, 63, was exposed by an Asian TV researcher working for Channel 4 programme on female circumcision called 'Cutting the Rose'. The woman posed as a mother who wanted her daughter circumcised and visited Dr Ahmed aat his home in Manchester with a video camera hidden in a handbag. She explained that in her home country of Somalia it was traditional to have young girls circumcised. On the tape, although initially reluctant, Dr Ahmed is heard arranging the operation at 4 pm that day, adding: 'This is not free -- you have to pay for it.' He agreed to perform the surgery on 2 other girls at 50 each.

The surgery was never carried out but the taped meeting was later broadcast. Dr Ahmed was interviewed by police but said the conversation had been about the circumcision of boys.

Giving the GMC's verdict yesterday, Professor Denis McDevitt, chairman of the professional conduct committee, said: 'The committee is appalled by the evidence they have heard of your offer to perform an abhorrent mutilation and illegal operation on female children. We do not find credible your account given both in the police interview and your evidence today that you believed you were discussing the circumcision of boys.'

The committee, which heard tapes of telephone calls and watched viseo-tapes of the meetings, took the rare measure of suspending Dr Ahmed, now a senior partner in a GP practice in Stoke Newington, London, from the register immediately to protect the public. He has 28 days to appeal. The GP later insisted that part of an audio tape in which he said he would not carry out female circumcision was missing. He maaintained that the documentary team had tried to trick him, and that on several occasions he had mistakenly referred to girls and daughters when he meant boys and sons. Female circumcision is illegal in Britain but is still practised in some ethnic minority communities, and carried out in backstreet clinics.


5. Man charged for docking puppies' tails in New Zealand

The Dominion (Wellington, NZ) Oct 11, 2001

Puppy dog tails trial said
to be a legal test case

  A MAN who allegedly chopped off the tails of two puppies with a kitchen knife appeared in Lower Hutt District Court yesterday.
  Arthur Pehi, of Stokes Valley, faced eight charges relating to ill-treatment, failing to alleviate pain or distress, and performing surgery without the supervision of a vet in what is believed to be the first case of its kind.
  Defence Lawyer Sue Earl said docking was not illegal and the outcome of the case could have big implications for agriculture.
  She said 36 million lambs were docked each year, and if the court found that docking dogs' tails was a "significant surgical procedure", new legislation might be required.
  The Animal Welfare Act 1999 states that all "significant" surgery should be conducted under veterinary supervision.
  "In my submission, Mr Pehi is being used purely as a guinea pig by the SPCA. They are testing the legislation, which is ambiguous. A discussion is required on words that are in the statute which are not defined."
  Two charges relating to the sale or attempted sale of the puppies were withdrawn yesterday.
  Judge Richard Watson said Mr Pehi would face a three-day hearing in the new year.
  Outside court, prosecuting lawyer Richard Williams, representing the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, said that though docking dogs' tails was not illegal, the way in which it was done might be.
  A special code of practice applied to farm animals, he said.


6. Man tried to shape his son's head

Man Charged In Shaping Baby's Head Case
Father Wanted Head To Be More Like His Own

POSTED: 9:14 a.m. EST November 2, 2001

CLEVELAND -- A man accused of trying to shape his infant son's head to look more like his own has been charged with felonious assault.

NewsChannel5 reports that Joshua Brissett, 19, pleaded innocent to the charges that stem from using his hands to try to shape his five-month-old son's head.

Roosevelt Worsham suffered a fractured skull. He has been placed in the custody of relatives.

Roosevelt's mother, Shiara Worsham, has been charged with child endangering, according to Kim Kowalski, a spokeswoman for the Cuyahoga County prosecutor's office.

Kowalski said that Worsham saw Brissett attempting to shape the infant's head and waited three days to take him to the hospital after he became sick.


7. Challenges to other tissue theft

The book "Body Bazaar" by Lori Andrews and Dorothy Nelkin makes no mention of the trade in foreskins, but details other cases where tissue was taken without consent:

"...the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act gives patients control over what is done with their bodies after they die, so it seems logical they should have similar control before they die."

"Although the California Supreme Court justices refused to recognise [John] Moore's property right [in his unusual and valuable antibodies against a T-cell variant of hairy cell leukaemia], they did toss him a legal crumb: they gave him the right to sue his doctor for failure to obtain informed consent and for breach of "fiduciary duty" - the doctor's responsibility to put the patient's interest first. A physician, they held, must tell his patient if he has a personal interest unrelated to the patient's health, whether research or economic, that might affect his judgement. "A physician who adds his own research interest to this balance may be tempted to order a scientifically useful procedure or test that offers marginal, or no, benefits to the patient," wrote Judge Pancelli for the majority.

[Moore v. Regents of the University of California,
793 P.2d 479, 51 Cal. 3d 120, 160]


8. Man charged for voluntary castration

Castration on the kitchen table

A TAIWANESE man has been jailed for up to four years for performing a castration in his kitchen last year.
   Suo-Shan Wang, 29, was arrested in June after a man began haemorrhaging outside his home following a voluntary castration.
   Authorities said that after the procedure the men shared a slice of pie at the same table on which the operation was performed.
   Wang was conviced on April 4 of practising medicine without a licence and sentenced to 14 months to four years.
   In handing down the sentence yesterday, circuit court judge Fred Mester said such acts "will not be tolerated in this society."
   Wang, who is in the United States on a student visa, told the court he was trying to help people who were unable to get such services elsewhere, but he regretted his actions.
   The man who underwent the castration wanted to curb his sex drive because he had a sexually transmitted disease, prosecutors have said.
   Wang told police he learnt the skill from his grandparents. He performed his first surgery on a dog and then on the dog's owner and three of the owner's friends in Australia, prosecutors said. - AP

The Dominion Post, Wellington, New Zealand, April 28 2003


8. Taking blood

The US Supreme court issued a ruling on the scope of the 4th Amendments' prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures.

133 S.Ct. 1552 (2013)
MISSOURI, Petitioner
Tyler G. McNEELY.
No. 11-1425.

The case involved the non-consensual drawing of blood from an alleged drunk driver. Justice Sotomayor noted:

The Fourth Amendment provides in relevant part that "[t]he right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause." Our cases have held that a warrantless search of the person is reasonable only if it falls within a recognized exception. See, e.g., United States v. Robinson, 414 U.S. 218, 224, 94 S.Ct. 467, 38 L.Ed.2d 427 (1973).

That principle applies to the type of search at issue in this case, which involved a compelled physical intrusion beneath McNeely's skin and into his veins to obtain a sample of his blood for use as evidence in a criminal investigation. Such an invasion of bodily integrity implicates an individual's "most personal and deep-rooted expectations of privacy." Winston v. Lee, 470 U.S. 753, 760, 105 S.Ct. 1611, 84 L.Ed.2d 662 (1985); see also Skinner v. Railway Labor Executives' Assn., 489 U.S. 602, 616, 109 S.Ct. 1402, 103 L.Ed.2d 639 (1989).

"Such an invasion [drawing blood] of bodily integrity implicates an individual's most personal and deep-rooted expectations of privacy." Now if only such standards applied to infant males. Perhaps we can use the language in future litigation as a recognition of "bodily integrity" being part and parcel of the "deep-rooted" expectations of privacy."


10. Animals have better legal protection than baby boys

US Federal law 7 USC 54 sec 2131, 38 years old, prohibits unnecessarily painful procedures on laboratory animals:

TITLE 7 CHAPTER 54 Sec. 2143.
Sec. 2143. - Standards and certification process for humane handling, care, treatment, and transportation of animals

The Secretary shall promulgate standards to govern the humane handling, care, treatment, and transportation of animals by dealers, research facilities, and exhibitors. ...

(2) The standards described in paragraph (1) shall include minimum requirements - ...

In addition to the requirements under paragraph (2), the standards described in paragraph (1) shall, with respect to animals in research facilities, include requirements -

(A) for animal care, treatment, and practices in experimental procedures to ensure that animal pain and distress are minimized, including adequate veterinary care with the appropriate use of anesthetic, analgesic, tranquilizing drugs, or euthanasia;

(B) that the principal investigator considers alternatives to any procedure likely to produce pain to or distress in an experimental animal;

(C) in any practice which could cause pain to animals -


(i) that a doctor of veterinary medicine is consulted in the planning of such procedures;

(ii) for the use of tranquilizers, analgesics, and anesthetics;

(iii) for pre-surgical and post-surgical care by laboratory workers, in accordance with established veterinary medical and nursing procedures;

(iv) against the use of paralytics without anesthesia;

[That practice is expressly and unequivocally prohibited. Query: would a CircumstraintTM qualify as a 'paralytic agent'? At least one lawyer thinks so.]


(v) that the withholding of tranquilizers, anesthesia, analgesia, or euthanasia when scientifically necessary shall continue for only the necessary period of time;

(D) that no animal is used in more than one major operative experiment from which it is allowed to recover except in cases of -
(i) scientific necessity; or
(ii) other special circumstances as determined by the Secretary;

(E) that exceptions to such standards may be made only when specified by research protocol and that any such exception shall be detailed and explained in a report outlined under paragraph (7) and filed with the Institutional Animal Committee.


11. Mouse tails protected

Seattle Times

UW professor barred from animal testing

By Sharon Pian Chan
Seattle Times staff reporter

After finding repeated violations of animal-treatment rules, the University of Washington has suspended professor Chen Dong from animal testing indefinitely, an unusually severe punishment.

The violations included cutting the tips of mouse tails without anesthesia, withholding food from mice without university approval and failing to euthanize mice that were suffering beyond an acceptable level, according to the university's Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee.


In the controversial world of animal testing, Dong's case reveals the intense scrutiny university professors face when they experiment on animals. If a single mouse goes hungry, the university apparently knows about it.


Animal-rights groups have deemed such experiments cruel and unnecessary and have repeatedly campaigned against such research. The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, for instance, calls animal experimentation a "sadistic scandal."


But two months after Dong arrived, the animal-care staff started sending reports to the animal-care committee. Some of the cages were bloody, the technicians said, and it looked as though the tips of some mouse tails had been cut off. Another report said that a mouse was constipated.

The university rarely allows tail tipping, but when it does, researchers are required to use anesthesia and to control bleeding. The committee spoke to Dong informally about proper animal-research procedures and told him he could not continue tail tipping without getting committee approval.


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