Litigation over circumcision

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Litigation over circumcision may occur for several reasons.

Adverse outcome

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.[1]

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.[2] A suit may be a personal injury lawsuit or a medical malpractice lawsuit.[3]

When parents disagree

Parents do not always agree about non-therapeutic circumcision of boys. Consent of both parents is required in the United Kingdom,[4] 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.[5]

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)[6] Lawsuits brought in other nations presumably would reach a similar conclusion.[7]

Such lawsuits are mostly theoretical at this time.

See also

External links


  1. REFnews Tigami, Ty (19 July 2010)."Atlanta lawyer wins $11 million lawsuit for family in botched circumcision", Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved 21 November 2021.
  2. REFjournal LLewellyn D. Legal remedies for penile torts. The Compleat Mother. 1995; 40: 16. Retrieved 21 November 2021.
  3. REFweb Messed Up Circumcision Lawyer. Retrieved 21 November 2021.
  4. REFdocument Non-therapeutic male circumcision (NTMC) of children – practical guidance for doctors PDF, British Medical Association. (2019). Retrieved 22 November 2021.
  5. REFweb Wishnia, Jaclyn (5 October 2020). Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations by State, LegalMatch. Retrieved 21 November 2021.
  6. LG Köln, 07.05.2012 - 151 Ns 169/11
  7. REFdocument 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? PDF, European Commission. (2014). Retrieved 22 November 2021.