Circumcision in Law
1. Brain-damage in Alaska
Seattle, March 8, 2000
13 years, justice for boy left
brain-damaged after circumcision
Betrayed by doctors
family finally wins case
A Washington couple has finally won
justice for their son, 13 years after he was left brain-damaged after
When Jacob Sweet was born at Providence Hospital
Alaska, in January 1986, it was a dream come true for his parents. But
Beverly and Gary Sweet's dream took a nightmarish turn only nine days
later when they took him back to the hospital for treatment of an
infected circumcision and the hospital returned a severely
brain-damaged and blind child. The nightmare continued for 13 years -
but a major settlement was announced today between the family, now of
Bothell, Washington, and the Alaska law firm that handled the Sweet's
medical malpractice lawsuit against the hospital and the pediatrician
who treated Jacob.
The Sweets were twice forced to fight for their
son in court. First,
they sought justice from the hospital and doctor who they allege caused
Jacob's injuries, and who then "lost" the medical records critical to
proving their case. Then, after Alaska lawyer Alan Sherry mishandled
that case, they were forced to resort to the courts again.
Seattle attorney Mark Johnson represented the
Sweets in the second
suit, for legal malpractice, arguing that Sherry had misrepresented
himself as a seasoned malpractice lawyer and then failed to argue their
"This has been tragedy at every turn for this
family," Johnson said.
"First the healthcare system devastated their child. Then, when they
most needed an aggressive, experienced and competent lawyer, an
attorney with no malpractice experience misled them and failed to
properly [argue] the case. That cost them their opportunity to recover
damages from the hospital and the pediatrician."
The Underlying Medical Malpractice Case
The Sweet's tragedy started on January 25, 1986,
Alaska, when they brought nine-day-old Jacob back to Providence
Hospital after he exhibited signs of an infected circumcision. [Actually, their tragedy began when
they were given the advice that convinced them to agree to have him
Jacob was admitted to the pediatric ward and had seizures for 24 hours,
but their pediatrician, Dr. Daniel Tulip, was absent most of that time
and failed to refer Jacob to a neonatologist until after he had
suffered brain damage that would leave him physically devastated,
developmentally delayed, and utterly dependent for the rest of his life.
that trial, Dr Thomas
an expert witness for the defendants, argued that Jacob's brain damage
could not have resulted from his circumcision, but was probably caused
by an unknown virus.]
The Sweet's calamity compounded when the Alaska
law firm they hired
to try their medical malpractice suit improperly handled the case.
Jacob's medical records disappeared shortly after his time in the
hospital, suggesting that someone had tried to cover up a negligent
act. Sweet's first legal team failed to present this evidence properly.
The Sweets lost the suit, and with it, any hope of recovering damages
from the hospital.
With mounting medical bills, they hired Mark
Johnson to represent
them in an action for legal negligence. Legal malpractice cases are
difficult to prove, because the plaintiff must not only prove the
defendant attorney was negligent, but that the client would have won
the case if the attorney had acted differently.
The amount awarded to the Sweets is confidential
as part of the settlement agreement.
"This brings some peace of mind to our lives,
although we are still convinced that Jacob's doctor and the hospital
have never told the truth," said Beverly Sweet. "At least now we can
provide for Jacob's medical care and future."
press-release is at http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews/000308/wa_johnson_1.html)
Jacob Sweet lived with severe disability and died
on September 16, 2012
2. Damages in Western Australia
The Sunday Times, Perth
Sunday, December 26, 1999
circumcision leads to $360,000 in damages:
The cruel cut that
ruined a man's life
By Bruce Butler
A PERTH man has won a $360,000 [$US232,663]
damages payout after a
WA doctor admitted he botched a circumcision operation which left the
man with a badly deformed penis.
The man, 26, who was operated on at birth, has
never had sexual
Due to a lack of information on neonatal
circumcision, he grew up
believing he was deformed. He was unable to obtain an erection until he
had corrective surgery at the age of 18.
The man, who wants to be known only as "John",
[now speaking in his real name, Shane Peterson] said he has a permanent
lack of sensation in his penis but also has suffered extreme pain.
He suffered severe psychological problems from his
late teens which led
to an attempted suicide at 18, six months after partially successful
In January 1992 when his injuries were diagnosed
as a bungled
circumcision, he turned against his parents, hating them for allowing
the awful operation to be done.
In 1997 he sued the G[eneral]P[ractitioner] who
This month John received an out-of-court
settlement after the doctor
admitted liability for the injuries and agreed to the payout.
His lawyer Hayden Stephens, from the law firm
Slater and Gordon, said
the payout was one of the biggest in Australia for that type of injury.
"This young man has suffered a horrific
consequence as a result of this
negligent procedure and he now has to live with the problem for the
of his life," Mr Stephens said.
"I am really pleased for him, but no amount of
money will ever truly
compensate him for the injuries he has suffered."
Now completing a doctorate in medical science,
John said he took legal
action in a bid to draw attention to circumcision and to try to
eradicate it in Australia, if not the world.
He said circumcision was a disgusting, unnecessary
act of mutilation
which the medical profession had forced on unsuspecting parents for
"For my whole life I've been imprisoned in pain
and exiled from
pleasure. I'm serving a prison sentence for a crime that someone else
committed - that's the reality for me," he said.
In John's operation, still routinely performed
without anaesthetic in
Australian hospitals, almost all of the penile skin was removed which
prevented the penis from growing normally.
John said: "Parents want to see their children
grow up to live healthy
and happy lives and many parents have consented to circumcision because
the Australian medical profession convinced them that it was a quick
painless procedure that was essential to avoid health problems.
"Not only is the claim that it is beneficial
wrong, the AMA has not
adequately informed parents of the surgical risks involved.
"I tool legal action against the doctor who
circumcised me because I
hate circumcision and I wouldn't be able to live with myself if I did
nothing to stop other babies being injured and mutilated in the same
"I don't want to walk down the street and see a
young mother with baby
boys and wonder and worry whether they've had done to them what was
Born in 1973, John's "routine" operation became a
nightmare he had had
to cope with all his life.
The young GP who delivered him cut way far too
much skin and had to
stretch the remaining soft, scrotal tissue and stitch it in place.
The result was a mess.
"The shape isn't right, the length isn't right -
it's shorter than it
should be - and the glans (head) is actually twisted a bit," John said.
Believing he was deformed, he hid from
embarrassing change-room and
shower situations at school.
Throughout adolescence - difficult enough years
when all is well - the
psychological harm matched his physical scars.
He was more interested in science than sport and
became withdrawn and
He prospered academically by pscyhologically was
crying out for help.
When he went to university, he realised he had a
serious problem and the
bungled circumcision was diagnosed.
He fought severe depression and contemplated
suicide but opted for
surgery, hoping it would save him.
"The pain involved in that was horrific and it
lasted for years and
still now I get aches and pains from time to time," he said.
"With all the pain, the psychological trauma and
embarrassment that went
with having that surgery, it wasn't worth it.
"But I was 18 years old, I had something very
badly wrong with me and I
"I had to try something."
Skin was taken from his upper thighs and grafted
to his penis, but he
was left with little real sensation.
The grafted skin had unsightly leg hairs growing
from it, which required
further electrolysis and caused further scarring.
He remains angry that he was circumcised
unnecessarily and that the
medical profession continues to push the operation on unknowing
He is outraged that 12 per cent of Australian boys are still
"Babies should never be circumcised," he said.
"My case was a totally unnecessary circumcision.
Yet my mother and
father were told it was essential for me to be circumcised to avoid
John said that some medical authorities still
reduced the rate of HIV infection and sexually transmitted diseases - a
claim he says has been proven wrong by medical data.
He said it was wrong that doctors, who charged
about $200 to perform a
circumcision, continue to make a small fortune from such a potentially
"I have been assaulted and mutilated and for my
whole life I am living
with an injury," he said.
John said his injuries made it almost impossible
to contemplate a
relationship with a woman and he found it hard to make friends.
He was angry with his parents but he now
acknowledged that the operation was not their fault.
His mother, a close and loving supporter who
carries her own guilt over
the surgery, said: "He's never had a relationship with a woman because
of how he feels about his body.
"At the most important stage of his life when he
should have been dating
and girls were showing an interest in him, he withdrew".
She said they should have been told how to clean a
boy's foreskin, not
advised to have a circumcision.
His mother also regretted the blunder was not
diagnosed earlier so that
he could have corrective surgery at a younger age.
John said he would like to see a support group
established in Australia
for men who have problems due to circumcision.
Information on circumcision is available on the
Internet. The address is
An article about Shane
published in an Australian women's magazine is also on this
3. Death in Sweden
February 9, 2001
treåring dog av bedövning
three-year-old died from anaesthesia
åtalades i dag för vållande till annans död.
charged with involuntary manslaughter today
3-årig pojke dog under det att läkaren utförde en omskärelse på honom.
Pojken tros ha döttav en fem gånger för stor dos av bedövningsmedlet
Ketogan, uppger Radio Stockholm.
three-year-old boy died when a doctor was performing a circumcision
on him. The boy is believed to have died from a dose of the anaesthetic
Ketogan that was five times too strong, says Radio Stockholm.
En treårig pojke i Stockholm var på
vårdcentralen för att omskäras i augusti 1999. Några timmar efter
ingreppet var pojken död. - Jag har i dag åtalat en läkare för vållande
till annas död eftersom jag anser att utredningen visar läkaren gett
den lille pojken för mycket bedövningsmedel. säger överåklagare Eva
Regner till Radio Stockholm.
A three-year-old boy in Stockholm was at the
doctor's to be circumcised in August 1999. A few hours after the
procedure the boy was dead.
"Today I have charged a doctor with
involuntary manslaughter because I think that the investigation shows
that the doctor gave the little boy too much anaesthetic," district
attorney Eva Regner told Radio Stockholm.
Fem gånger för hög dos
var en fem gånger för hög dos av bedövningsmedlet Ketogan. Några timmar
efter ingreppet blev pojken slö och fick andningssvårigheter och senare
samma dag dog han på väg till sjukhuset. Den legitimerade läkaren hade
befogenhet att utföra omskärelsen och hade gjort samma ingrepp flera
gångre tidigare. Nu åtalas läkaren för vållande till annans död av
chefsåklagare Eva Regner.
Five times too strong a dose
drug was a dose of the anaesthetic Ketogan five times too strong. A few
hours after the procedure the boy became inert and had trouble
breathing, and later the same day he died on the way to hospital. The
licensed practitioner was authorised to perform the circumcision and
had performed several before. Now the doctor is charged with
involuntary manslaughter by district attorney Eva Regner.
"Skett av oaktsamhet"
- Jag anser att utredningen kommit fram till att det här har skett av
oaktsamhet. Han har alltså tagit miste på styrkan i det här
bedövningsmedlet, säger Eva Regner till Radio Stockholm. I december
förra året lade socialförsäkringsminister Ingela Thalén fram ett
förslag om att den som utför omskärelse antingen måste vara läkare
eller vara utbildad och ha ett särskilt tillstånd. Sådana tillstånd kan
exempelvis ges till judiska rabbiner och muslimska imamer. Enligt
förslaget måste dessutom båda föräldrarna ge sitt samtycke och så även
pojken, om han är tillräckligt gammal för att förstå vad det handlar om.
"The reason was carelessness"
my opinion that the investigation shows that this happened out of
carelessness. That is, he has made a mistake about the strength of this
anaestetic," Eva Regner told Radio Stockholm. In December last year
Ingela Thalén, secretary of social security, proposed that whoever
performs circumcisions must either be a doctor or have a special
education and license. Such licenses could then be given, for example,
to Jewish rabbis and Moslem imams. According to the proposal both
parents must agree, and the boy must also give his consent, if he is
old enough to understand what it's all about.
"Medicindosen inte för stor"
Radio Stockholm har läkaren haft invändningar mot den utredning som
gjorts gällande dödsfallet och de slutsatser som dragits. Han anser
inte att medicindosen var för stor. Stockholms tingsrätt väntas ta upp
målet under våren.
"The dose was not too strong"
to Radio Stockholm the doctor has raised objections to the
investigation into the death of the boy, and to the conclusions drawn.
He does not think that the dose was too strong. The district court in
Stockholm is expected to try the case during the [Northern] spring.
4. Legality doubted in a learned legal journal:
text of this paper is in the CIRP library.
Circumcision of healthy
boys: Criminal assault?
by G. J. Boyle, J. S.
Svoboda, C. P. Price, & J. N. Turner
Journal of Law & Medicine
Vol 7 (February 2000), No. 3, pp. 301-310.
Reasons for concern about infant male circumcision
under human rights principles include:
No national or international medical association in the modern
industrialised world, or indeed anywhere in the world, endorses routine
circumcision of healthy boys.
- the loss of highly erogenous sexual tissue
which also serves important protective functions;
- the loss of bodily integrity;
- traumatic and often highly painful
- complications including death and the loss of
the entire penis;64 and
- the impermissibility of any mutilation of
children's genitals performed with neither their consent nor medical
Several human rights documents tacitly forbid
circumcision. Non-therapeutic circumcision of unconsenting minors
amounts to culturally sanctioned physical and sexual abuse. No basis in
international human rights law or domestic law justifies the
discriminatory prohibition of only female genital mutilation.
"Ritual male circumcision is
non-therapeutic and is not warranted or
justified by medical evidence. This form of mutilation should not be
legally distinguished from female circumcision ... presently being
prohibited throughout Australia and the Western world. As ritual male
circumcision is non-therapeutic, may be against public policy, and
clearly is not in the best interests of the child, a parent's consent
may be vitiated, leaving persons involved in the procedure liable in
negligence, notwithstanding parental religious beliefs."65
Non-therapeutic, invasive and irreversible major
sexual reduction surgery on unconsenting minors, is unethical. The
standard of care for infrequent events such as infections is
antibiotics, not amputation. Circumcision of healthy male minors is
useless and traumatic, causing severe and lasting harm physically,
sexually and often psychologically. As medical ethicist Margaret
Somerville pointed out:
"Moreover, neonatal circumcision is done
consent of the subject, removes healthy tissue with unique anatomical
structure and function, and leads to differences in adult sexual
behaviour... We need, therefore, to address the issue directly and end
the persistent efforts to find a medical rationale for circumcision by
removing the cloak of medicine from this procedure.66"
Enforced non-therapeutic genital cutting of
unconsenting minors is
overdue for recognition by the legal community as sexual mutilation. As
we enter the 21st century, appropriate legal action must be taken to
safeguard the physical genital integrity of male children.
5. Informedness of consent disputed in North Dakota
More recent items
about this case.
The Forum, Fargo, N.D.
Fargo couple want ban
on female genital mutilation to include boys
Doctor failed to inform them of circumcision risks, benefits
A Fargo couple want North Dakota’s ban on female
mutilation ruled unconstitutional because it doesn’t protect infant
boys from being circumcised.
James and Anita Flatt also contend a doctor at
MeritCare Hospital failed to inform them on the risks and benefits of
the procedure before circumcising their newborn son in 1997, according
to a lawsuit the Flatts filed in Cass County District Court Thursday
against the hospital and the state.
The Flatts say they would not have consented to
circumcision if they were property informed. And if the North Dakota
law against female genital mutilation was gender-neutral, then the
procedure wouldn’t have been legal, the lawsuit contends.
The Flatts’ lawyer, Zenas Baer, said circumcision
unnecessary and compared the female genital mutilation law to one that
said only “it is a crime to abuse your female children.”
“That would be ruled unconstitutional within a
heartbeat,” he said.
MeritCare spokeswoman Carrie Johnson said hospital
hadn’t received the lawsuit at the end of the day Thursday and couldn’t
respond until they reviewed it.
The Flatts’ son was born early March 6, 1997. That
nurse asked Anita Flatt to sign a consent form for circumcision but
didn’t describe the benefits or risks of the procedure, according to
the lawsuit. And Flatt was “still in great pain and on medication for
the pain” when asked to sign, the lawsuit states.
The next day, Dr. Sunita Kantak spoke briefly with
didn’t discuss the benefits, risks or potential complications, the
lawsuit contends. Baer said James Flatt never was consulted.
According to one estimate, 60 percent of male
circumcised in the United States. In North Dakota, the rate is
estimated between 80 percent and 90 percent, the lawsuit states.
In March, the American Academy of Pediatrics
issued a policy
statement that said the benefits of circumcision are not significant
enough for the academy to recommend it as a routine procedure.
In light of cultural, religious and ethnic
the academy said parents should be given complete information about the
potential benefits so they can make an informed choice.
In 1996, a federal judge threw out a similar
lawsuit Baer filed
in U.S. District Court, and the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld
Baer said the case filed Thursday differs from the
because it aks for monetary compensation for the procedure performed on
the boy, where the federal lawsuit only wanted a ruling against the
“Whether the result will be any different, I can’t
guarantee that,” he said.
Baer compared circumcision legislature with
lawsuits that were
repeatedly filed - and dismissed - before judges started ruling against
“Many times these cases are filed and thrown out
by the courts,
but not until there is an education process do the courts catch on,” he
Even if the female genital mutilation law isn’t
include boys, Baer said the lawsuit may change how doctors handle
circumcisions in the state.
“The effect of it may be to raise the bar for the
profession to tell more about the effects of circumcision on the baby
boy,” he said. “And that’s a step in the right direction.”
The judge will hear arguments on April 13, 2000 on
to dismiss the State as a defendant on the ground that Josiah Flatt
(the infant) suffered no injury fairly related to the unconstitutional
The two claims are totally severable, so a
dismissal of the constitutional claim would not impair the informed
6. Lack of consent in Louisiana
The Advocate, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
17 March, 2000
Patient for heart
bypass sues over circumcision
By MICHELLE MILLHOLLON
Advocate staff writer
man who underwent surgery for a bypass at Earl K. Long Medical Center
has sued saying the hospital circumcised him without his consent.
The hospital has said the circumcision was a
necessary part of
the bypass surgery, which was not completed because of complications...
Robert Banks sued the hospital and Dr. Mary Jo
Wright on Wednesday in 19th Judicial Court.
Banks says in the suit that he woke up from
surgery on Aug. 15, 1995, and
discovered he'd been circumcised.
His attorney, Alicia Hoover, says no one ever
discussed the possibility of a circumcision with Banks.
"It's troubling," Hoover said. "I don't think
anyone who goes in for bypass
surgery would ever expect or anticipate (they) would wake up and find
they've been circumcised."
But the state Attorney General's Office has said
in court documents that the circumcision was a necessary procedure.
Earl K. Long Medical Center is a state hospital.
The state says in documents filed in response to
an earlier suit that a
bladder catheterization to monitor kidney function was necessary to the
A circumcision had to be performed in order to do
the catheterization, the
However, doctors had to close up Banks' chest
the bypass because of complications that arose during the surgery.
Hoover says Banks is now too terrified to undergo
any further surgeries.
Banks first filed suit in 1996 alleging medical
The state argued he was actually alleging medical
malpractice and needed to first go before the state medical review
State District Judge Curtis Calloway ruled the
circumcision was medical
battery, not medical malpractice.
The 1st Circuit Court of Appeal later reversed the
The appellate court said Banks' lawsuit involved
malpractice and would first have to be submitted to the state medical
Judge Brady Fitzsimmons dissented, saying the
could have awakened Banks and gotten his permission for the
Hoover said Thursday that the state medical review
malpractice had not been committed. That decision cleared the way for
Banks to proceed with a lawsuit.
Barry Toups, a state assistant attorney general,
said the circumcision was neither medical battery nor medical
Circumcision to enable catheterisation is
non-circumcising regions of the world, such as Europe. Doctors and
nurses are taught to retract the foreskin enough to sight the meatus and insert the
catheter, then to bring it forward again.
Underlying this story is the
contempt in which the
doctors held the man's foreskin, and their total failure to appreciate
that he might enjoy having it.
7. Inadequate consent in Sweden
mars 29, 2000
March 29, 2000
Pappa åtalas efter omskärelse
Father charged after circumcision
Göteborg. En pappa i Göteborg har åtalats för
anstiftan till misshandel sedan hand låtit omskära sin treårige son.
Gothenburg. A father in Gothenburg has been
prosecuted with instigation of physical abuse after he permited the
circumcison of his three-year-old son.
Omskärelsen av pojken skedde utan att barnets
mamma var tilfrågad.
The circumcision of the boy occurred without the
child's mother being consulted.
Pappan har enlight åtalet falskt uppgett för
läkarna att också mamman gav sitt samtycke till ingreppet. Åklargen
skriver också att omskärelse innebar smärta och ömhet hos pojken.
The father had, according to the prosecution,
advised doctors that the mother also gave her consent to the operation.
The prosecuter writes also that the circumcision involved pain and
soreness for the boy.
Föräldrarna är skilda och den
treårige pojken bor hos sin manna. När han under en period på några
veckor bodde hos pappan lät fadern ta hem en läkare till bostaden. Där
utfördes omskärelse, på en bädd på köksbordet.
The parents are divorced and the
three-year-old boy lives with his mother. When during a period of
several weeks he lived with his father, the father had a doctor visit
the home. There the circumcision was performed, on bedding upon the
Operationen skedde enlight läkaren, som arbetar på
Sahlgrenska universitetssjukhuset, med lokalbedövning.
The operation was according to the doctor, who
works at Sahlgrenska University Hospital, done with local anaesethic.
Swedish national news agency)
8. United States law already criminalizes female
18 United States Code Section 116:
(a) Except as provided in subsection (b) whoever
excises, or infibulates the whole or any part of the labia majora or
labia minora or clitoris of another person
who has not attained the age of 18 years shall be fined under this
title or imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both.
(1) Necessary to the health of the person on
whom it is
performed, and is performed by a person licensed in the place of its
performance as a medical practitioner; or
(b) A surgical operation is not a violation of this section if the
(2) Performed on a person in labor or who has just given birth and is
performed for medical purposes connected with that labor or birth by a
person licensed in the place it is performed as a medical practitioner,
midwife, or person in training to become such a practitioner or
(c) In applying subsection (b)(1), no
account shall be taken of the effect on the person on whom
the operation is to be performed of
any belief on the part of that person, or any other
person, that the operation is
required as a matter of custom or ritual.
Since 1994, 16 states have passed legislation
relating to Female
Genital Cutting. In general, the statutes address it in a manner
similar to that of
the federal law, by prohibiting its practice and instituting criminal
Island and Tennessee prohibit the
practice of FGM on adult women as well as on females under the age of
The statutes enacted in California,
Colorado, Delaware, Maryland,
Missouri, New York, Oregon
and West Virginia explicitly address the conduct of
a parent or guardian who permits or allows FGM to be performed on her
or his daughter.
In Nevada, a person may be
prosecuted for the removal of a child from that state for the purpose
of performing FGM.
York, and Oregon have enacted legislation
addressing the need for culturally sensitive education and outreach to
the relevant communities.
Other countries with laws against FGM are shown on
the Maps page.
9. Call for eventual ban in Sweden
May 10, 2000. 5.29pm
BO vill stoppa rituell omskärelse av
Children's Ombudsman wants ritual
circumcision of boys stopped
|På sikt bör omskärelse av
pojkar utan medicinsk
grund förbjudas i Sverige. Det anser Barnombudsmannen (BO) som på
onsdagen lämnade sitt remissvar till regeringens lagförslag om
omskärelse av pojkar.
||The circumcision of boys
without medical reason should
eventually be banned in Sweden. So says the Children's Ombudsman (BO),
who on Wednesday submitted her response to the Government's
working-paper (with suggested law) on the circumcision of boys.
|I lagförslaget står principen
om att barnets bästa
ska vara styrande för om en omskärelse ska genomföras eller inte
inskrivet. I förslaget regleras också vem som ska få lov att utföra
regeringens förslag ska endast personer som fått särskilt tillstånd av
Socialstyrelsen - förutom hälso- och sjukvårdspersonal - tillåtas
||The principle underpinning
the law-proposal is that
the child's best interest should be the determining factor in deciding
whether a circumcision is to be performed or not permitted. The
government's law-proposal also suggests that only people holding
special permits from the National Board of Health and Welfare - except
personnel of the health care system - be allowed to perform the
|I sitt remissvar går BO emot
att lekmän trots allt
får göra ingreppet, och anser att endast läkare ska få lov att utföra
ingreppet i medicinsk miljö och alltid i kombination med smärtlindring.
||However, in her response the
BO opposed letting
laypeople perform the operation, maintaining that only doctors should
be allowed to do it, in a medical setting and always using pain relief.
|I Sverige omskärs cirka 3 000
pojkar varje år, i flera fall av rituella och religiösa skäl.
||In Sweden, about 3 000 boys
are circumicsed every year, usually for ritual and religious reasons.
10. Damages, reprimand in Texas
illustrates, first, the desperate need of some men to circumcise, and
then the interlocking psychopathologies
of the authorities acting in concert to trivialise and sustain the
based on a NOCIRC
pays parents $23,000 for circumcision without consent.
reprimand to gynacologist
who "never even apologised"
Dallas,Texas, June 30, 2000:
A suit was settled this week for $23,000, against a Dallas obstetrician
for wrongful circumcision . The victim’s parents, Charlie Hardy and
Randi Harlan say they also endured indignities from Texas medical and
government personnel during their nearly three year long legal battle.
The Texas Medical Board issued Dr. Roosevelt
Taylor a public
reprimand - his second - on May 19, 2000 for "failure to practice
medicine in an acceptable manner."
In September 1997, Hardy and Harlan advised Dr.
Taylor that their other children were not circumcised because
they felt that circumcision was barbaric and harmful to an infant. On
September 26, 1997, when Mrs. Harlan was admitted to Tri-City Hospital
Dallas for delivery, she told the staff that there was to be no
circumcision. To prevent an accidental circumcision, the attending
threw the circumcision consent form into a nearby trashcan.
Two days after their son’s birth, Hardy and Harlan
when their newborn son was brought to them from the hospital nursery
bleeding, and were horrified when they learned that he had just been
circumcised by Dr. Taylor. "We were hysterical," recalls Randi, "But
Dr. Taylor stopped by the room his only comment was ‘It’s not the end
the world.’ I mean he’s never even apologized to us." The couple
Dr. Taylor circumcised their son intentionally in spite of their strong
feelings against it.
"How could this have even been a mistake? There
only one other baby with our son in the nursery at the time, we
did not sign a consent form, and we specifically told Dr. Taylor that
was to be no circumcision," Charlie Hardy stresses. "We were totally
betrayed by our own doctor."
Dr. Taylor’s lack of concern was replayed in the
and Harlan received from successive medical and government personnel as
they tried to find justice for their newborn child. An attempt to file
a police report was met with an amused reaction on behalf of the Dallas
police who then advised the couple that a wrongful surgery "was not a
criminal matter". The Dallas County District Attorney’s office
explained to the couple that a
public case was not "worth their time".
The couple sought assistance from the state’s
the federal attorney general’s office, and even the Texas Governer’s
according to the couple, "We were just laughed at, every step of the
The issue of Medicaid fraud also didn’t seem to
Hardy and Harlan contacted the Medicaid fraud hotline to report
Dr. Taylor for charging the surgery. "We were told that performing this
surgery without consent does not constitute fraud. We can’t believe
this doctor made money for performing a surgery we were against, and
then the taxpayers had to pay for it," says Hardy.
Despite the out-of court settlement, Hardy and
wasn’t served. "Dr. Taylor has done this twice now." In 1991 he was
publicly reprimanded by the Texas Medical Board for performing surgery
without consent. "He’s still out there practicing like what he did was
no problem. If the doctor had carved his initials in our son’s stomach,
he would not be allowed to practice medicine. But since he cut off our
son’s foreskin against our
wishes, people think it is funny and all the doctor gets is a slap on
wrist. I wonder how many other families this has happened to, but they
gave up the fight after being laughed at and receiving no support?"
J. Steven Svoboda, Executive Director of Attorneys for the Rights of the Child,
says events like this are neither rare nor isolated.
11. "Contrary to Canadian law"
Infant Male Circumcision:
A Violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
by Arif Mohamed Bhimji, MD
Circumcision of male infants is a clear violation of the rights
guaranteed to all persons by the
Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Furthermore, the practice
rights legislation on provincial and international levels.
It is a fundamental principle of international
law, as well as the mark of every civilized
community, that discrimination is unlawful. Interpretations of human
rights law that
recognize FGM but not MGM as violations infringe on equal protection
enshrined in national and international law. Female circumcision is,
rightly, a criminal
offence in almost every country even when “religious duty” is claimed;
there can be no
justification for not extending the same protection to boys. All forms
of sexual cutting of
children are profoundly damaging, whether male or female. To suggest
that only female
circumcision be regarded as in breach of the various conventions on
human rights denies the
medical evidence as to the pain, risks and sexual dysfunction from
infant male circumcision.
It argues for the formalization of discrimination against these male
children on the grounds
of their sex, race and the religious beliefs of the family into which
they are born. Human
rights principles are absolute, not subject to balancing in the scales
of international justice
relative to other violations.
The presence of and tolerance for infant male
circumcision in our societies harms us all.
Male infants need our protection from unnecessary surgery. To
contemplate a ban on non-ritual,
non-therapeutic circumcision, while allowing ritual circumcision, would
prohibited discrimination against a group of boys on the grounds of
their parents’ religion.
These infants will always have the choice to be circumcised later in
life, if they so choose to
do as a sign of their faith. At that point, at least, it is their own
decision and not one that has
been imposed irreversibly upon them.
Male genital mutilation (MGM), including
circumcision, is much more of an issue in Canada
than FGM, whose proponents and victims are found mostly abroad. For
that reason, MGM
deserves at least as much attention as FGM from Canadian authorities.
It is difficult to
conceive that the amputation of healthy, fully functional erogenous
tissue without consent
does not violate the most basic of human rights.
Canadians proudly point to the Charter of Rights
and Freedoms as the primary instrument
for protecting their rights. The evidence is clear: infant male
circumcision for anything other
than real medical necessity violates both the Charter and the Criminal
Code. As Canadians
we have an obligation to rectify this injustice.
The entire article, 103KB long, may be downloaded as a
*.pdf file from HealthcareLaw
to be read with eg Acrobat Reader.
13. Landmark case: suit against a
"successful", parentally-consented infant circumcision. [Settled out of court]
Attorneys for the Rights of the Child
2961 Ashby Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94705 Fax/phone 510-595-5550
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 20, 2000
CONTACT: Marilyn Milos, RN, 1-415-488-9883
Attention: Health Editor
Man Sues for Being Circumcised as an Infant
SUFFOLK COUNTY, NEW YORK An 18- year-old filed
suit Tuesday in
the US District Court, Eastern District of New York, against the
circumcised him as a newborn and the hospital where he was circumcised.
William G. Stowell, born on December 22, 1981 at Good Samaritan
Hospital in West Islip, NY, was circumcised the following day by his
mother’s obstetrician, Frank P. Cariello, MD. Mr. Stowell recalls being
at camp at
the age of 14 and noticing that another boy had a foreskin. 'I wanted
know why he had one and I didn’t and, more importantly," says Stowell,
“where mine was. Shortly afterwards I formed the opinion that the whole
procedure and idea of circumcision were wrong. I came to believe I
deserve compensation from the person who scarred and damaged me
permanently, and from the hospital where this damage was allowed to
According to J. Steven Svoboda, Executive
for the Rights of the Child, "This case highlights the travesty of
which seriously breaches the child’s right to bodily integrity and is
incompatible with the doctor’s legal and ethical duties toward the
patient. Circumcising a child without medical necessity is criminal
assault. All physicians and hospitals that currently circumcise males
without medical justification would be wise to reconsider this
This landmark case brings into question whether a
remove healthy, normal tissue from unconsenting minors for
non-therapeutic reasons, and whether a parent can legally consent to a
medically contraindicated surgery for a minor child. The American
Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) first
acknowledged that there was no medical justification for routine
circumcision in 1971. Last year, the AAP reaffirmed that it does not
recommend routine circumcision. The American Medical Association
this year, calling routine circumcision 'non-therapeutic'. No national
international medical organization recommends routine circumcision. The
United States is the only country that continues to circumcise the
of its newborns for non-religious reasons. As parents have become more
educated about the surgery, the circumcision rate in the US, from data
supplied by HCIA-Sachs, has fallen to 57%.
- X X X -
"Mr. Stowell is represented by John L. Juliano of
East Northport, NY and
David J. Llewellyn of Conyers, Georgia. Mr. Llewellyn regularly
the victims of circumcision throughout the country." David Llewellyn,
plaintiff’s attorney, can be reached at 1-770-918-1911.
J. Steven Svoboda, Executive Director of Attorneys
for the Rights of the
Child, can be reached at 1-510-595-5550.
[The defendants settled out of court
for an undisclosed sum.]
14. "He doesn't need this procedure"
Vegas Review Journal
Monday, January 15, 2001
Father fights to stop son's circumcision
Man's ex-wife plans procedure for
3-year-old boy on recommendation of
By Carri Geer Thevenot
The father of a 3-year-old Las Vegas boy is
seeking a court order to
prevent his ex-wife from having the boy circumcised.
"It's my son. It's highly emotional, and I truly
believe in my heart -- I
have a clear mind that he doesn't need this procedure," said the boy's
father, Henry Corvera.
Corvera, a native of Bolivia who lives in St.
Louis, said his ex-wife,
Laura Latimer, told him several months ago that the boy's doctor had
Latimer wanted to go ahead with the procedure, but
Corvera objected. He
said he decided to go to court after she refused to discuss the issue
"I believe she thinks she's doing the right thing,
but I believe it's not
medically necessary," Corvera said.
He talked about the matter at length last week
after a closed-door hearing
in Family Court Judge Bob Lueck's courtroom.
Latimer, who has primary physical custody of the
couple's son, declined to
be interviewed for this story. Latimer and Corvera have joint legal
custody of the boy.
In a letter written in mid-November to both
parties' attorneys, Lueck
indicated he would order the circumcision. But after last week's
the judge said he wanted to review more records before making a final
Lueck's November letter was based on an
independent examination performed
by Dr. Sheldon Freedman, a Las Vegas urologist.
Freedman concluded that the child had a medical
condition that would be
best treated with circumcision, which involves the removal of all or
of the foreskin of a penis.
"I am very well aware of the controversy regarding
circumcision, and I
openly acknowledge that the foreskin does have function both in
protection, lubrication and sensation," the urologist wrote in a letter
the judge. "In this case, however, the foreskin has a true medical
disease, and in my opinion, this is best treated with circumcision."
Corvera questions those findings. He said he has
medical experts of his
own who have concluded that his son's penis is normal and needs no
"You don't mutilate a body part just because,"
He requested an evidentiary hearing -- at which
experts on both sides of
the case could testify and face cross-examination -- but Lueck denied
Corvera said he and Latimer were married in 1992
in Rhode Island. Their
son was born in August 1997 in Las Vegas, and they opted against
"There was an argument at the time, but I imposed
my view," Corvera said.
Corvera, 37, is not circumcised and said the
procedure is not a common
practice in his homeland "or, for that matter, in most of the world."
Statistics show that about 61 percent of male
infants in the United States
were circumcised in 1999.
"That procedure is culturally accepted here,"
Corvera said. "It's
Circumcisions in this country have dropped
significantly since the 1960s
as research has raised questions about the procedure's medical benefits.
"It is such a strange subject," Corvera said.
"Nobody talks about it."
Corvera has studied the issue extensively and has
accumulated a file full
of related information.
He also has conversed with Jim Price, the father
of a 3-year-old New
Jersey boy who is fighting a similar battle with his estranged wife.
has appeared on Howard Stern's radio talk show and urged Corvera to
his story to the press.
Corvera said he fears his child will suffer
psychological damage from
being circumcised at this age.
And because of the boy's age, Corvera said, he
should be given general
anesthesia. Corvera said surgery and anesthesia carry risks of physical
injury or death.
In addition, Corvera said he has acquired
circumcision diminishes a man's sexual pleasure. He said most American
don't discuss this possibility.
"Because they've been clipped, they don't know the
difference," he said.
Corvera said both he and Latimer moved to St.
Louis after the birth of
their son, but they separated six months later, and Latimer returned to
The couple were divorced in 1998, and Corvera said
they never fought over
"I thought she would be a good mother, and I won't
take the child away
from her by any means," he said.
Corvera said he flies to Las Vegas once a month to
spend three days with
his son. He also pays $775 a month for child support, $240 a month to
son's private preschool, and half of the boy's medical expenses.
"Nobody can accuse me of being a deadbeat father,"
He estimated he has spent about $12,000 on legal
fees to fight his
ex-wife's plans to circumcise their son and that he would spend another
$30,000 if Lueck allows an evidentiary hearing.
"I'm not crazy. I'm not happy about spending that
kind of money, but he's
my son," Corvera said.
He also vowed to sue any doctor who performs a
circumcision on the boy and
said he will encourage his son to do the same when he becomes an adult.
"I'm going to get in debt, but my son will know I
fought for him," Corvera
18. $1.4 million settlement for botched circumcision
|Date: 6/7/01 [7 June,
Gordon v. University of California
Case Number: 99
Court, Sacramento County, California
Attorney: Martin L. Blake of Baum & Blake, San Francisco,
Attorney: Ronald Lamb of Rust, Armenis, Schwartz, Lamb & Bill,
Medical malpractice -
Negligent performance of circumcision on a newborn baby whose penis was
injured. Troy Gordon was born, jaundiced and hypoglycemic on January
19, 1994, at the University of California at Davis. The circumcision
was performed by a resident and the Plaintiffs claimed that an
excessive amount of foreskin was removed in the procedure. As a result,
the child has a "buried penis".
took the position that the condition created by the surgical error
would correct itself during puberty.
Plaintiffs' verdict for $1.4 million.
See also the news
story based on this case.
Jurist vill förbjuda manlig omskärelse
5 mars 2001
Lawyer wants to ban male circumcision
5 March 2001
|Juristen Stefan Ivarsson
anser att den lag som ska skydda pojkar från att skadas när de omskärs
strider mot rättsliga principer.
||Lawyer Stefan Ivarsson
believes the law intended to protect boys from botched circumcisions is
contrary to legal principles.
|Den svenska regeringen har
nyligen beslutat om en lag som ska skydda pojkar från att skadas när de
omskärs. Men lagen strider mot grundläggande rättsliga principer och
kan leda till att läkare som omskär pojkar ställs inför rätta. -
Sverige borde införa förbud mot manlig omskärelse precis som mot
kvinnlig, säger Stefan Ivarsson, jurist och medlem i det
internationella nätverket Attorneys for the Rights of the Child, en
människorättsorganisation som står under FN:s beskydd. Den bildades i
USA och har flest medlemmar i den anglosaxiska världen men även judiska
och muslimska grupper ingår.
||The Swedish government
recently decided on a law to protect boys from botched circumcisions.
But the law contravenes basic legal principles and may result in
prosecutions of doctors who circumcise boys. "Sweden should introduce
legislation prohibiting male and female circumcision equally," says
Stefan Ivarsson, a lawyer and a member of the international group
Attorneys for the Rights of the Child, a human rights organization
recognized by the UN. This group is based in the USA and most of its
members are from the English-
speaking world, though even Jews and Muslims are included.
|- Vi arbetar mot både
kvinnlig och manlig omskärelse. Men det är svårare att övertyga
beslutsfattare om att även manlig omskärelse är en
stympning, säger Stefan Ivarsson. Han har ända sedan utredningen om den
nya omskärelselagen tillsattes försökt få gehör för sina åsikter hos
tjänstemän och politiker. Hittills utan framgång. - Utredningen är
Den tar ingen hänsyn till den debatt eller forskning som pågår om
omskärelse. Det är idag en utbredd uppfattning hos sakkunskapen att
omskärelse inte ger några medicinska fördelar.
||"We are opposed to both
female and male circumcision. But it's harder to convince the drafters
of the legislation that male circumcision is also a mutilation," says
Stefan Ivarsson. Ever since the
commission was appointed to draft the new circumcision law, he has been
trying to gain the support of administrators and politicians. So far
without success. "The commission is bad. It takes no account of the
principles involved or of current research on male circumcision. The
prevailing opinion among experts today is that male circumcision offers
|Tvärtom strider ingreppet mot
den hippokratiska läkareden att aldrig
skada. Manlig omskärelse förstör frisk vävnad, skadan kan inte
den orsakar livslånga sexuella och psykologiska problem. - Det är en
kränkning av barnets kroppsliga integritet, säger Stefan Ivarsson.
Dessutom kräver själva ingreppet offer. Operationer är aldrig helt
riskfria. Pojkar far illa och dör på grund av att de omskärs, också i
Sverige, även när omskäraren inte gör något fel. För medicinskt onödiga
ingrepp är detta oacceptabelt. Stefan Ivarsson är själv omskuren mot
vilja. Pappan är engelsman och följde en lång tradition från sitt
hemland. - Min egen erfarenhet är en drivkraft i arbetet mot manlig
ett bra argument mot personer som anklagar mig för antisemitism. Men
viktigast för mig är att manlig omskärelse är ett brott mot de mänskiga
||Quite the contrary; the
operation violates the Hippocratic Oath never to
cause harm. Male circumcision destroys healthy tissue which can never
replaced, and causes lifelong sexual and psychological problems. "It's
violation of a child's bodily integrity," says Stefan Ivarsson.
the operation itself requires a subject (victim?). Operations are never
completely risk-free. Things go wrong and boys die as a result of
circumcision, even in Sweden and even when the operation is properly
performed. Such an outcome is unacceptable for an unnecessary medical
intervention." Stefan Ivarsson himself was circumcised against his
His father was English and was following a long British tradition. "My
experience motivates me to work against circumcision and serves as a
strong argument against those who accuse me of antisemitism. But the
important consideration for me is that male circumcision is a human
|Stefan Ivarsson anser att
argumenten mot den nya svenska omskärelselagen är starka. Han lutar sig
mot FN:s deklaration om de mänskliga rättigheter, FN:s barnkonvention,
Europakonventionen om de mänskiga rättigheterna, den svenska lagen mot
kvinnlig könsstympning, diskrimineringslagen och grundlagen. Ingen får
utöva en frihet så att den hindrar en annan människas rättigheter.
Rätten till kroppslig integritet är således starkare än
Barnkonventionen slår fast att barnet är en egen individ med samma
rättigheter som andra. - När regeringen i den svenska lagtexten
rätten till religionsfrihet är det föräldrarnas, inte barnets
religionsfrihet man talar om. Man kan inte utgå från att barn följer i
sina föräldrars fotspår in i religion, lika lite som i politik eller
||Stefan Ivarsson believes that
the arguments against the new Swedish circumcision law are strong. He
relies on the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the
Convention on Human Rights, the Swedish law against FGM, and laws and
principles prohibiting discrimination. No one can exercise a right in
a way that it violates someone else's rights. Thus the right to bodily
integrity takes precedence over religious freedom. The Convention on
Rights of the Child clearly states that a child is a separate person
the same rights as other persons. When the government in the text of
law defends the right to religious freedom, they are talking about the
parents' right to religious freedom, not that of the child. We can't
assume that a child will follow in the footsteps of his parents with
respect to religious affiliation, any more than he will follow their
politics or occupation.
|Religiös uppfostran ger inte
föräldrar rätt att märka sina barn med sin
egen religiösa övertygelse, kommenterar Stefan Ivarsson. Han påminner
att Jehovas vittnen inte får lov att vägra sina barn bodtransfusioner,
deras religion förbjuder. Om de vägrar har samhället rätt att
ta över vårdnaden om barnet. Samma sak gäller flickor som hotas att
||A religious upbringing does
not give parents the right to mark their
children with their own religious convictions, comments Stefan
He reminds us that Jehovah's Witnesses cannot get permission to deny
children blood transfusions, even though transfusions are prohibited by
their religion. In case of refusal, society has the right to take
temporary custody of the child. The same thing applies to girls at risk
|Stefan Ivarsson hävdar att
samma skäl som regeringen har för att se kvinnlig könsstympning som ett
brott - ett rituellt ingrepp som förstör
väsentliga kroppsdelar - också måste gälla manlig omskärelse/stympning.
Motsatsen skulle innebära diskriminering på grund av kön, dessutom på
grund av födsel och religion. - När man inför en lag som skyddar
kroppsliga integritet kan man inte utesluta pojkar. Alla barn oavsett
religion, ras, hudfärg, födsel etc har rätt till samma lagliga skydd.
||Stefan Ivarsson maintains
that the same reasoning the government uses to criminalize FGM-ritual
practice that destroys an essential body part-must also be applied to
male circumcision/mutilation. The differential treatment should be
regarded as discrimination on the basis of sex, as well as on grounds
of (accident of) birth and religion.
"When we pass a law protecting the physical integrity of girls we can't
exclude boys. All children regardless of sex, religion, race, skin
or any other accident of birth have the same right to legal
|Pojkar och flickor föds med
sina könsdelar intakta. Det är inte deras
skyldighet att bevisa sin rätt att få förbli oomskurna. Bevisbördan
på den som vill göra ingreppet och barnet måste, hävdar Stefan
skyddas tills det bevisats att ingreppet är ofarligt och lagligt. Han
anser inte att Sverige kan tillåta manlig omskärelse utan att kränka
grundläggande rättsprinciper och mänskliga rättigheter. - Med de lagar
har är det redan förbjudet att omskära pojkar och flickor i Sverige och
tid att börja fundera på offren, säger Stefan Ivarsson. Han tänker
pröva den lagstiftning han hänvisar till genom att stämma staten för
egen omskärelse på Karolinska sjukhuset 1968.
||Boys and girls are born with
intact sex organs.
They have no need to prove that they should remain uncircumcised. The
burden of proof is on those who want to perform the operation, and
children must, says Stefan Ivarsson, be protected until circumcision is
shown to be harmless and legal. He doesn't think Sweden can allow male
circumcision without violating basic legal
principles and human rights. "The current law in Sweden already
circumcision of boys and girls, and it's time to start thinking about
the victims," says Stefan Ivarsson. He himself intends to test the
provisions he refers to by suing the government for his own
at the Karolinska hospital in 1968.
21. $80,000 for lack of consent
settlement to circumcised boy
January 05, 2001
By SUE REINERT
The Patriot Ledger
Quincy Medical Center and an obstetrician have
agreed to pay more than
$80,000 to a boy who was circumcised and whose parents say the
was carried out against their wishes.
The parents told the hospital in August 1997 that
they did not want their
son circumcised, according to a malpractice suit filed by the parents.
Nevertheless, Dr. Sandra Chenkin performed the procedure the day after
was born, court papers said.
Medical insurance experts said the case was
unusual because it was based on lack of consent rather than negligence,
the usual grounds for a
There were no complications from the surgery, in
which a doctor removes a
sheath of skin covering the tip [no,
the glans, the
foreskin is the tip] of the penis.
Quincy Medical Center spokeswoman Karen
Schwartzman said the incident occurred because a hospital policy
requiring written consent for
circumcisions “was not adhered to.”
Parents were supposed to be asked to sign [...but they should be asked
whether they would sign...] a consent form after
for the circumcision procedure, “along with a number of other forms
get filled out at the same time,” Schwartzman said.
In this case, “regrettably the consent form was
not filled out,” she said. [No,
what is regrettable is that the non-signing was overlooked and the boy
Schwartzman said she had no information about
conversations between the parents and the medical center before the
birth. [This is irrelevant
since the form was not signed.]
“Medical errors happen, and all too frequently,”
she said. “Quincy Medical
Center is not immune, but it is a problem at all hospitals.”
Schwartzman added patients should judge a hospital
by its “whole picture”
rather than “one incident two and a half years ago.”
The hospital closed its maternity unit in November
1998 because of financial reasons.
Chenkin practices in Brockton. Her lawyer did not
return telephone calls.
Papers filed at Norfolk Superior Court contain the
names of the parents
and child. The Patriot Ledger is not publishing the names to protect
The case was settled Aug. 30, a little more than
one month after the
parents sued. The parents and their lawyer agreed to keep the terms of
settlement secret, not disclosing where the case had been filed and who
had been sued. The Patriot Ledger obtained the court papers
The lawyer for the parents and child said he could not comment because
the settlement agreement.
Under terms of the settlement, the parents
received $14,418 in August and
their lawyer was paid $20,000. The child will collect four annual
of $20,588 starting on his 18th birthday, for a total of $82,352, the
The payments to parents, child and attorney total
Chenkin’s insurer, which paid the settlement, laid out only $60,000 in
cash: the immediate payments to the parents and their lawyer, plus a
$25,352 annuity to cover the future payments, the court papers said.
Until about 10 years ago, circumcision was
considered a routine procedure
for newborn boys and few parents or doctors questioned it.
Muslims and Jews practice circumcision as part of
their religions. The
practice has gone beyond religious boundaries to become almost
exaggeration] in the United States. The parents
who sued Quincy Medical Center claimed
circumcision was against their religious beliefs. ["Claimed"? As if they didn't know
what their own religious beliefs are?]
In recent years, evidence has mounted that
circumcision is unnecessary and
can present risks, like any surgery.
In March 1999, the American Academy of Pediatrics
withdrew its longtime
support for the procedure, saying the benefits were not sufficient
to justify a recommendation.
The new guidelines said parents should decide, and
laid out the benefits
Malpractice lawyers and insurers said they didn’t
know of a case similar
to the Quincy Medical Center suit.
The suit was unusual because it hinged on lack of
consent, not negligence
by the doctor or hospital, said Boston malpractice lawyer David
White-Lief. [It was
negligent of the hospital to proceed without consent.]
Under malpractice theory, surgery without consent
is considered the same
as an assault on the patient, White-Lief said.
“Any surgical procedure requires informed
consent,” he said.
At least five area hospitals – Brockton Hospital,
South Shore Hospital in
Weymouth, Caritas Good Samaritan Medical Center in Brockton, Jordan
Hospital in Plymouth and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston –
written consent before performing a circumcision, officials said. [None requires written consent from
Dr. Robert Nelson, a pediatrician at Children’s
Hospital in Philadelphia
and head of the bioethics committee of the American Academy of
said hospital policies may vary but some form of consent is necessary
before performing circumcision.
Even if hospitals don’t use a form, doctors should
get consent verbally
and document it, Nelson said.
A spokeswoman for the American College of
Obstetricians and Gynecologists said the organization’s guidelines call
for doctors to
obtain consent but don’t specify that it be written.
22. $750,000 for the tip of the glans
From the May 19, 2003 Massachusetts
Verdicts & Settlements
Tip Of Penis Amputated During Circumcision
Doctor Admits Mistake; Defense Later Questions Design Of Clamp Used
In June 1997, a baby boy was born to the
to all involved, the mother and minor plaintiff were healthy and in
satisfactory condition following the birth. The morning after the
birth, the minor plaintiff was taken from the mother to be circumcised.
The father did not accompany the minor plaintiff. Approximately one
hour later, the defendant doctor entered the plaintiff parents' room
and notified them that a small section at the tip of the infant's glans
penis had been inadvertently excised.
The defendant doctor further informed them that a
on the way to perform microsurgery to reattach the amputated section.
The defendant doctor reportedly concluded by stating: "I wish I could
blame the clamp, but I can't. It was my fault."
The operative note stemming from the reattachment
only a tiny section of glans penis had been amputated during the
circumcision, that no damage had been done to the child's urethra, and
that full recovery was expected.
Over the next two years, the minor plaintiff had a
healing result. Follow-up appointments with different doctors, one of
whom was a noted specialist from Children's Hospital in Boston,
confirmed that the minor plaintiff would not likely suffer any
permanent injury as a result of the circumcision mishap [...only as a result of the
circumcision]. There were, however, slight
cosmetic deficits at the tip of the minor plaintiff's penis, which were
termed "skin tags."
These skin tags were removed by laser surgery and did not reappear.
The plaintiff's expert agreed that there was only
cosmetic deficit and that the urethra remained intact. He also agreed
that the child would not suffer any decreased sensation due to the
original insult [...only
due to the circumcision]. He added that he could
not say for certain that the plaintiff would grow to have full
sensation at the tip of his penis.
As discovery progressed, the defense began to
question the suitability of the Mogen
used in the process. Despite the defendant doctor's admission that the
incident was his fault, the defense persisted with claims that the
Mogen clamp had a design defect, which could allow for a portion of the
glans penis to become trapped during the clamping process and
inadvertently excised. [This
is an acknowledged fault of the Mogen(TM)
The plaintiffs did extensive research into the
implements used for circumcision, and opined that the doctor failed to
make certain that only foreskin remained exposed after the clamp had
been applied. Ultimately, the case was settled with a structured
settlement, which will yield the child in excess of $750,000.
Type of action: Medical
Injuries alleged: Section of glans penis
Name of case: Withheld
Court/case #: Withheld
Tried before judge or jury: N/A
Special damages: $3,950
Amount of settlement: $725,000
Date: January 2003
Attorney: Darin M. Colucci, Colucci,
Colucci & Marcus, Milton
the tip of the glans is worth
$750,000, how much will the whole foreskins be worth when the class
action suits begin? This case illustrates how those who have a glans
and no foreskin overvalue the one and undervalue the other. An
excellent example of straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel.]
24. Penis lacerated (more than usually), clamp blamed
John Doe v. Doe Distribution:
Plaintiff was a newborn who
was circumcised at the hospital. Unfortunately, the pediatrician
performing the procedure lacerated the organ with serious
complications. The case was brought to trial against the clamp product
distributor for manufacturing and design defects. At the trial, the
jury found that defects in the clamp contributed to the injury. The
jury awarded damages in excess of $1.5 million, which may be the
largest recovery for this type of injury reported.
28. German jurist declares circumcision "injury"
Circumcision of boys is bodily injury
[Anyone w]ho performs a circumcision on a minor
boy without medical indication –
but for hygienic, religious or aesthetic reasons – commits an offence
against §223 StGB (bodily injury). This is the view that Dr. Holm
(Ruhr-University Bochum) takes in his article "Rechtliche Grenzen der
Zirkumzision bei Minderjährigen – Legal boundaries of circumcision of
minors" in the journal Medizinrecht (Vol. 26, Issue 5, May 2008,
29. Ruling that a 14-year-old may refuse to be
IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE STATE OF
OREGON FOR JACKSON COUNTY
In the Matter of the Marriage of:
JAMES H. BOLDT,
CASE NO: 98-2318-03(8)
MATTER came before the Court for hearing on April 22, 2009, pursuant to
the remand Instructions from the Oregon Supreme Court to resolve the
factual issue of whether the Child agrees to or objects to the
circumcision that would be required to be performed on him as part of
his conversion to Judaism. The Supreme Court further instructed that if
the trial court found that the Child opposed the circumcision, it must
then determine whether the Child's opposition to the circumcision will
affect Petitioner's ability to properly care for him. If necessary, the
trial court could then determine whether it is in the Child's best
interests for the existing custody arrangement to remain in place,
whether conditions should be imposed contingent on Petitioner's
continued custody of the Child, or whether custody should be changed
from Petitioner to Respondent.
The Child was interviewed in camera
regarding his position regarding the circumdslon and religious
conversion. Trie Court also received testimony from Petitioner James
Having considered the Child's in camera
interview, Petitioner's testimony, the arguments made by the attorneys,
the memoranda of law
submitted by the parties, the relevant statutory provisions, the
applicable caselaw, and otherwise being familiar with the issues, the
Court makes the following findings:
(1) The Child
clearly has expressed to the Court that he does not wish to be
circumcised. Further, the Child does not wish to convert to Judaism.
Child discussed in depth his fear of returning to Petitioner's custody
once Petitioner became aware of his position regarding the circumcision
and religious conversion. Further, the Child explained to the Court
that he was so concerned about what Petitioner's reaction would be that
he was afraid to tell Petitioner his true feelings about the
circumcision and conversion,
Child pleaded with the Court not tp send him back to
Petitioner's custody during his in camera interview. Further, the Child
stated that it was his desire to live with Respondent. It was clearly
apparent that the Child was suffering from significant emotional
anguish regarding his current living situation with Petitioner.
Although Petitioner testified that he would not force the Child to be
circumcised or to convert to Judaism against the Child's wishes, the
Court has concerns about the ongoing emotional and/or psychological
effect that the Child's decision will have on the parent-child
relationship and the Petitioner's ability to properly care for the
Court Is satisfied that the Respondent has met her burden of
demonstrating to the Court that there has been a substantial change in
circumstances relating to the capability of one or both parents to care
for the Child. The events (Child's position regarding the circumcision
and conversion; Child's fear of returning to Petitioner's care; Child's
fear of being truthful with Petitioner regarding his position as to the
circumcision and conversion; Child's desire to live with Respondent;
and Child's obvious emotional anguish over his living situation) that
precipitated the substantial change fn circumstances were unanticipated
and have arisen since the last Court order of October 9, 2002.
Based on the
foregoing, it is the Order of the Court that this matter be set for an
evidentiary hearing to determine whether it is in the Child's best
interests for the existing custody arrangement to remain in place,
whether conditions should be Imposed contingent on Petitioner's
continued custody of the Child, or whether custody should be changed
from Petitioner to Respondent.
it is the Order of the Court that an independent Child Custody
Evaluator be appointed in this case pursuant to ORS 107.425. Attorneys
for Petitioner, Respondent, and the Child may provide the Court with a
list of at least three (3) proposed evaluators to the Court within 14
(fourteen) calendar days from the date of this Order. The Court will
then review the proposed evaluators and make a selection from the
Dated: June 2 2009
|Lisa C. Greif
Circuit Court Judge
McGovern, attorney for petitioner
Jennifer Perez, attorney for respondent
Bradley Lechman-Su, attorney for child
this all raises the question, if he may refuse at 14, why not earlier,
especially since an earlier circumcision would have taken away his
choice at 14?
30. Genital Mutilation Bill, Massachusetts
31. Federal Law to derestrict (male) circumcision
HR2400 mercifully lapsed, but California's
city, county, or city and county ordinance, regulation, or
administrative action shall prohibit or restrict the practice of male
circumcision, or the exercise of a parent's authority to have a child
circumcision in California needs only one
consenting parent, a boy and a boxcutter. You can circumcise your son
with impunity because he failed his driving test - or authorize the
driving instructor or tester to carry it out.
32. Lawyers specialising in circumcision cases
There are several lawyers in the USA who spend
much of their energy
pursuing cases involving circumcision (botched circumcisions,
protecting boys from unconsented circumcisions, and also premature
forcible retraction of intact boys), and they will sometimes work pro
bono (free, for the public good). They are
- Zenas Baer in Hawley, Minnesota (zbaer [at]
- John Geisheker in Seattle
(docdirector.geisheker [at] gmail.com)
- David Llewellyn in Atlanta (llewhm [at]
- Steven Svoboda in Berkeley, California (arc
[at] post.harvard.edu) runs Attorneys for the Rights of the Child
33. Infant male genital cutting is already
Germany - from ethical/legal to political
German Law on
Circumcision and its Debate: How an Ethical and Legal Issue Turned
University of Tubingen - Institute for Ethics and History of Medicine
Universität Tübingen - Institut für Ethik und Geschichte der Medizin
Bioethics, Vol. 29, Issue 3, pp. 203-210,
The article aims to
illuminate the recent debate in Germany about the legitimacy of
circumcision for religious reasons. The aim is both to evaluate the new
German law allowing religious circumcision, and to outline the
resulting conflict between the surrounding ethical and legal issues. We
first elucidate the diversity of legal and medical views on religious
circumcision in Germany. Next we examine to what extent invasive and
irreversible physical interventions on infant boys unable to given
their consent should be carried out for non‐medical reasons. To this
end, the potential benefits and harms of circumcision for non‐medical
reasons are compared. We argue that circumcision does not provide any
benefits for the ‘child as a child’ and poses only risks to boys. We
then set out to clarify and analyse political (rather than ethical)
justifications of the new circumcision law. We demonstrate through this
analysis how the circumcision debate in Germany has been transformed
from a legal and ethical problem into a political issue, due at least
in part to Germany's unique historical context. Although such a
particular political sensibility is entirely comprehensible, it raises
particular problems when it comes to framing and responding to medical
ethical issues – as in the case of religious circumcision.
Circumcision is unethical and unlawful
Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics
Is Unethical and Unlawful
Steven Svoboda, Peter W. Adler, Robert
S. Van Howe
The foreskin is a complex
structure that protects and moisturizes the head of the penis, and,
being the most densely innervated and sensitive portion of the penis,
is essential to providing the complete sexual response.
Circumcision—the removal of this structure—is non-therapeutic, painful,
irreversible surgery that also risks serious physical injury,
psychological sequelae, and death. Men rarely volunteer for it, and
increasingly circumcised men are expressing their resentment about it.
Circumcision is usually
performed for religious, cultural and personal reasons. Early claims
about its medical benefits have been proven false. The American Academy
of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control have
made many scientifically untenable claims promoting circumcision that
run counter to the consensus of Western medical organizations.
Circumcision violates the
cardinal principles of medical ethics, to respect autonomy
(self-determination), to do good, to do no harm, and to be just.
Without a clear medical indication, circumcision must be deferred until
the child can provide his own fully informed consent.
In 2012, a German court held
that circumcision constitutes criminal assault. Under existing United
States law and international human rights declarations as well,
circumcision already violates boys› absolute rights to equal
protection, bodily integrity, autonomy, and freedom to choose their own
religion. A physician has a legal duty to protect children from
unnecessary interventions. Physicians who obtain parental permission
through spurious claims or omissions, or rely on the American Academy
of Pediatrics' position, also risk liability for misleading parents
J Law Med Ethics June
2016 vol. 44 no. 2 263-282
male genital cutting is fraudulent
JOURNAL OF LAW AND PUBLIC POLICY
30:45 pp 45-107
CIRCUMCISION A FRAUD?
W. Adler, Robert Van Howe, Travis Wisdom & Felix Daase
Article suggests that non-therapeutic male circumcision or male genital
cutting (MGC), the irreversible removal of the foreskin from the
penises of healthy boys, is not only unlawful in the United States but
also fraudulent. As a German court held in 2012 before its ruling was
effectively overturned by a special statute under political pressure,
circumcision for religious or non-medical reasons is harmful, violates
the child’s rights to bodily integrity and self-determination (which
supersedes competing parental rights), and constitutes criminal
assault. MGC also violates the child’s rights under U.S. law, and it
constitutes a battery, a tort and a crime, and statutory child abuse.
Building upon a 2016 case in the United Kingdom, we make the novel
suggestion that when performed by a physician, MGC is a breach of trust
or fiduciary duty, and hence constructive fraud, where courts impute
fraud even if intent to defraud is absent. We reprise and build upon
the argument that it is unlawful and Medicaid fraud for physicians and
hospitals to bill Medicaid for unnecessary genital surgery. Finally, we
suggest that MGC constitutes intentional fraud by the American Academy
of Pediatrics (AAP) and most physicians who perform circumcisions in
the United States. They have long portrayed MGC as medicine when it is
violence, and as a parental right when males have the right to keep
their penile foreskin, and physicians are not allowed to take orders
from parents to perform unnecessary genital surgery on children.
Various aspects of potential litigation would be favorable to the
plaintiffs. Hence, we conclude that MGC exposes physicians, hospitals,
and the AAP to large and possibly uninsured liability.
The whole article (pdf)