Peter W. Adler
Peter W. Adler, J.D.[a 1], M.A.[a 2], from Massachusetts, USA, is a law professor and legal scholar who has published numerous articles about circumcision and the law, three of which laid the groundwork for lawsuits in the U.S.
Adler has a BA[a 3] in Philosophy from Dartmouth College (Magna Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa), an M.A.[a 2] in Philosophy and Ethics from Cambridge (with Honours), and a J.D.[a 1] from the University of University of Virginia School of Law (Law Review).
Adler is a professor of International Law, Business Law, and International Business at the University of Massachusetts. He won an award in 2019 for excellence in teaching. He served as Legal Advisor to Attorneys for the Rights of the Child from 2011-2018.
Medicaid article and lawsuit
In 2011, Adler published, “Is it lawful to use Medicaid to pay for circumcision?” in the Journal of Law and Medicine.
In July 2020, Ronald Goldman, Ph.D.[a 4], and other Massachusetts taxpayers filed a lawsuit in Suffolk Superior Court based on the article alleging that it is unlawful for the Massachusetts Medicaid agency MassHealth to use Medicaid to pay for non-therapeutic circumcision. MassHealth moved to dismiss the lawsuit.
The Superior Court ruled in May 2021 that the taxpayer plaintiffs have the right to proceed with their claims that in funding non-therapeutic circumcisions, MassHealth is violating Massachusetts law. The judge reported the case to the Massachusetts Appeals Court for review, and the case is on appeal.
Legality article and lawsuit
In 2012, Adler published “Is Circumcision Legal?” in the Virginia Journal of Law and Public Policy, arguing that under U.S. law, as a court had ruled in a case in Cologne, Germany earlier that year, it is assault and a crime for a physician to circumcise a boy for religious reasons, as it violates the child’s right to bodily integrity and self-determination, and the child’s rights supersede the parents’ religious and other rights. The article was used and cited in a federal lawsuit in 2015 in Florida in a “spite circumcision” case that gained national attention, but the lawyer for the plaintiff dropped the suit. The mother, Heather Hironimus, wanted to protect her son from circumcision, while the estranged father was intent on having him circumcised in accordance with their separation agreement. A judge in state court put the mother in jail until she gave permission for the circumcision. A physician circumcised the young boy against his wishes and over the objection of the mother using a false diagnosis of phimosis or a tight foreskin.
Fraud article and lawsuit
In 1999, the legal scholar Matthew Giannetti had published an article in the Iowa Law Review arguing that the 1989 and 1999 circumcision guidelines of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) were biased, scientifically indefensible, negligent, and possibly fraudulent.
On July 24, 2014, at the Genital Autonomy America Symposium in Boulder, Colorado, Adler gave a presentation asking "Is the Circumcision of Children a Fraud?". After the talk, Robert Van Howe, M.D.[a 5], suggested that they publish an article based on it as a sequel to Giannetti’s article.
In November 2020, Adler, Van Howe, Travis Wisdom, and Felix Daase published “Is Circumcision a Fraud?” in the Cornell Journal of Law and Policy. They argued that circumcision is a complex multibillion dollar per year fraud dating back 150 years, as follows:
- Physicians use fraudulent conduct in the hospital: they target newborn boys who are unable to defend themselves; target mothers who have just given birth, often on medications, who they should know are legally incapacitated; and medical professionals often badger the parents to give permission numerous times, which constitutes coercion.
- Urged on by the American Academy of Pediatrics, a trade association with an undisclosed financial bias in favor of perpetuating circumcision, physicians make fraudulent medical claims to persuade parents to elect circumcision. These include the false claims that circumcision prevents urinary tract infections, penile cancer, and some sexually transmitted infections including HIV, and the claim that the benefits outweigh the risks, which is illogical as the AAP conceded in 2012 that it does not know the risks, and the AAP assigned no value to the foreskin, even though genitally intact man greatly value it. Physicians also use fraudulent diagnoses including phimosis or a tight foreskin, which is normal, and “newborn boy”.
- Physicians and the AAP make the implied and express fraudulent legal claims that boys have no right to bodily integrity; that parents have the right to elect non-therapeutic circumcision (and for reasons having nothing to do with medicine); and that physicians have the legal right to take orders from parents to perform unnecessary surgery on a healthy child.
- As shown in the 2011 Medicaid article, physicians then commit Medicaid fraud by falsely certifying to state Medicaid agencies when they bill for reimbursement that it is medically necessary to circumcise healthy boys, and by using fraudulent diagnoses.
- The article also argues that non-therapeutic circumcision constitutes constructive fraud, where to prevent unfairness, court impute fraud as a matter of law even if intent to defraud is absent. The article argued that boys and their parents have a right to summary judgment without trial on their claims that circumcision is a battery, a breach of fiduciary duty, and constructive fraud, and that the statute of limitations begins upon discovery of the fraud.
In what is certain to be a landmark case in circumcision and the law, in February 2021, Shingo Lavine, the victim of a negligently performed circumcision, and his parents Adam and Aiko Lavine, represented by the circumcision trial lawyer David Llewellyn of Georgia and attorney Andrew DeLaney of New Jersey, sued a medical clinic and the American Academy of Pediatrics in New Jersey state court. The suit alleges, based on Giannetti’s 1999 article and the 2020 fraud article, that the AAP committed intentional fraud and constructive fraud in issuing its pro-circumcision 1989 and 1999 circumcision policy statements. On June 18, 2021, the AAP filed a Motion to Dismiss, and the plaintiffs will find a responsive Memorandum of Law.
Is the Circumcision of Children a Fraud?
Male Circumcision Violates the Physician's Fiduciary Duty to the Child
- Adler PW. It is lawful to use Medicaid to pay for circumcision?. Journal of Law and Medicine. 2011; 19: 335-53. Retrieved 20 September 2019.
- Adler PW. Is circumcision legal?. Richmond Journal of Law and the Public Interest. March 2013; XVI:iii(3): 439-86. Retrieved 20 September 2019.
- Adler PW. The Draft CDC Circumcision Recommendations: Medical, Ethical, Legal, and Procedural Concerns. The International Journal of Children's Rights. 2016; 24(2)
This article drew a response, “Critical Evaluation of Adler’s Challenge to the CDC’s Male Circumcision Recommendations”. Id.
- Svoboda JS, Adler PW, Van Howe RS. Circumcision is Unethical and Unlawful . The Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics. 2016; 44: 263-282. DOI. Retrieved 19 June 2021.
- Svoboda JS, Adler PW, Van Howe RS. Is Circumcision Unethical and Unlawful? A Response to Morris et al. . The Journal of Medical Law and Ethics. January 2019; 7(1): 75-95. Retrieved 19 June 2021.
- Van Howe RS, Frisch M, Adler PW, Svoboda JS. Circumcision Registry promotes precise research and fosters informed parental decisions. BMC Medical Ethics. 9 January 2019; 20(6) DOI. Retrieved 19 June 2021.
- Adler PW, Van Howe RS, Wisdom T, Daase F. Is circumcision a fraud?. Cornell Journal of Law and Public Policy. November 2020; 30(1): 45-107. Retrieved 7 December 2020.
- Adler PW, Daase F. Actualié du débat sur la circoncision aux États-Unis: Is the Circumcision Debate Over?. Droit et Cultures. 2020; 79(1): 207-222. Retrieved 19 June 2021.
- Adler PW, Daase F. Causes of Action for Unnecessary Surgery. (submitted for publication). 2021;
Juris Doctor, Wikipedia. Retrieved 13 October 2021. (Also known as Doctor of Law or Doctor of Jurisprudence.)
Master of Arts, Wikipedia. Retrieved 14 June 2021.
Bachelor of Arts, Wikipedia. Retrieved 13 October 2021. (BA or AB; from the Latin baccalaureus artium or artium baccalaureus.)
Doctor of Philosophy, Wikipedia. Retrieved 16 June 2021. (Also abbreviated as D.Phil.)
Doctor of Medicine, Wikipedia. Retrieved 14 June 2021.
Peter W. Adler website, Linked In. Retrieved 20 September 2019.
- Goldman, Ronald (22 July 2020).
Taxpayers Sue Massachusetts Medicaid About Circumcisions, Circumcision Resource Center. Retrieved 23 July 2020.
- Adler PW. Is Circumcision Legal?. PILR. 2013; 16(439) Retrieved 19 June 2021.
- Duret, Daphne (20 February 2017)."Charges dropped against Boynton mom who fought son’s circumcision" (archive URL), Palm Beach Post. Retrieved 14 September 2019.
- Giannetti, Matthew R. (May 2000).
Circumcision and the American Academy of Pediatrics: Should Scientific Misconduct Result in Trade Association Liability?. Retrieved 19 June 2021.
- Svoboda JS, Van Howe RS. Out of step: Fatal flaws in the latest AAP policy report on neonatal circumcision. Journal of Medical Ethics. March 2013; 39(7) DOI. Retrieved 19 June 2021.
- Earp, Brian D. (27 May 2013).
The AAP report on circumcision: Bad science + bad ethics = bad medicine. Retrieved 19 June 2021.
- Van Howe, Robert S..
Statement by Statement Analysis of the 2012 Report from the American Academy of Pediatrics Task Force on Circumcision: When National Organizations are Guided by Personal Agendas II. Retrieved 19 June 2021.
- Frisch M, et al. Cultural Bias in the AAP’s 2012 Technical Report and Policy Statement on Male Circumcision. Pediatrics. April 2013; 131(4): 796-800. DOI. Retrieved 19 June 2021.
- Adler, Peter W.: Is Circumcision a Fraud? . Retrieved 19 June 2021.