Litigation over circumcision
Litigation over circumcision may occur for several reasons.
Circumcision may only be legally done when someone (the patient or his surrogate) has granted informed consent to the surgeon for the known injury.
Every circumcision injures the patient by amputation of the foreskin which has many valuable protective, immunological, sensory, and sexual functions, however the patient or his surrogate grants consent for this, so when the injury is greater than expected, of an unusual nature, death occurs, or the amputation was poorly executed, litigation for damages or even wrongful death may occur.
If the surgical instruments used caused the injury, then the manufacturer may be sued. David J. Llewellyn of Atlanta has won millions of dollars in two lawsuits again the manufacturer of the defective Mogen Clamp.
Lack of consent
Circumcisions have been known to be carried out, usually by error, when informed consent has not been granted or is faulty or defective. In such cases litigation for wrongful circumcision may result. A suit may be a personal injury lawsuit or a medical malpractice lawsuit.
When parents disagree
Parents do not always agree about non-therapeutic circumcision of boys. Consent of both parents is required in the United Kingdom, but is advisable everywhere. Doctors and mohels who perform circumcisions should obtain written informed consent from both parents. When parents disagree, litigation between parents regarding a proposed circumcision of an infant son may be brought.
Adult lawsuits for child circumcision
An adult may sue for an injury incurred as a child after reaching the age of majority. Such suits are subject to statutes of limitation which prescribe strict time limits for instituting such suits. The prescription varies by jurisdiction.
For example, William Stowell, as a young adult, brought a suit against the doctor who performed his infant non-therapeutic circumcision and the hospital where the circumcision occurred. The suit resulted in an out-of-court settlement.
Suits to enforce and protect Constitutional and human rights
While this will vary from country to country, Non-therapeutic circumcision of male infants violates various constitutional and human rights. The Cologne circumcision court judgment (Köln Oberlandgerict) found in May 2012 that such non-therapeutic circumcision violates the Bill of Rights of Germany's Basic Law (Grundgesetz) Lawsuits brought in other nations presumably would reach a similar conclusion.
Such lawsuits are mostly theoretical at this time.
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Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations by State, LegalMatch. Retrieved 21 November 2021.
- LG Köln, 07.05.2012 - 151 Ns 169/11
- Bernaerts, Jonathan Alfons J: The Cologne Judgment: a curiosity or the start sign for condemning circumcision of male children without their consent as a human rights violation? , European Commission. (2014). Retrieved 22 November 2021.