AMA Letter

Attorneys for the Rights of the Child
2961 Ashby Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94705
June 19, 1998
AMA House of Delegates
Illinois Delegation—Resolution No. 224
515 North State Street
Chicago, IL 60610
Dear Sir/Madam:
I understand that the above referenced resolution would mandate the
“AMA to devise effective methods to protect Physicians from the
criminalization of medicine.”
As a longtime human rights attorney and director of Attorneys for the
Rights of the Child, I would like to remind you that not all acts
committed by physicians constitute the practice of medicine. It is
highly questionable whether any procedure not beneficial to a child’s
health can constitute the practice of medicine regardless of a parent’s
request for the procedure or cultural and/or religious expectations
regarding the procedure. One obvious example is male circumcision,
whose lack of medical justification is clear and which is largely
justified today by physicians as a cultural and/or religious procedure.
Human rights laws which are binding in the United States under direct
treaty ratification and/or customary law--as well as criminal laws
prohibiting battery, assault, unlawful imprisonment, and ritual abuse--
bar such interference with an individual's right to bodily integrity
barring a superseding medical justification. Naturally, no resolution
will have the power to supersede international and state laws
forbidding non-therapeutic procedures such as circumcision.
AMA House of Delegates
Page Two
June 19, 1998
Presumably the AMA does not wish to pass a resolution which is likely
to be perceived by the public as a self-serving attempt to avoid
rightful criminal liability for procedures which are performed without
medical justification. With respect, I would therefore suggest that
serious and immediate consideration be given to indefinitely tabling
Resolution No. 224.
Thank you for your attention.
J. Steven Svoboda
Attorneys for the Rights of the Child


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