FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 27, 2000
CONTACT: Steven Svoboda 510-595-5550
Attention: Health Editor
Human Rights Organization Cautions All New Jersey Hospitals and Urologists of Potential Liability for Medically Unwarranted Circumcision
RARITAN, NEW JERSEY – A three-judge panel from the New Jersey Court of Appeals denied a new hearing Wednesday in a concerned father’s attempt to overturn a controversial lower court decision issued last August, 2000, authorizing the circumcision of a three-year-old boy against his father’s wishes. Attorneys for Jim Price, the boy’s father, submitted a request last week for another hearing on the basis of new evidence, showing that a circumcision is medically unwarranted, and that the father was denied his due process in the prior hearing. In March, a pediatrician and a urologist recommended circumcision to eliminate recurrence of an inflammation, while another doctor disputed that recommendation. The father has stated that his son’s inflammations were caused by the physician’s improper medical advice. The child has not had any problems in the five months since improper medical care was discontinued. Because Mr. Price’s son has no problems, the initial recommendation for circumcision no longer has any rational justification.
As Mr. Price’s attorneys prepare for an appeal to the New Jersey Supreme Court, Attorneys for the Rights of the Child is sending a letter to every New Jersey urologist and hospital urging them to protect the rights of the child and refuse to participate in circumcising the boy. They are advising every New Jersey hospital and urologist that not only is circumcision unnecessary, it is contraindicated and harmful for this three-year-old child.
According to J. Steven Svoboda, Executive Director of Attorneys for the Rights of the Child, “This case is a travesty of justice. Circumcision seriously breaches the child’s rights, the father’s rights, and is utterly incompatible with the doctor’s legal and ethical duties toward the child patient. Circumcising this child without medical necessity is criminal assault.”
This landmark case brings into question whether a father’s parental consent rights can be legally denied when a medical procedure is elective, and whether or not hospitals and physicians have the right to remove healthy and normal tissue from a three-year-old boy without medical necessity. Last year, the American Academy of Pediatrics announced that it does not recommend routine circumcision. The American Medical Association concurred this year, calling routine circumcision “non-therapeutic.” No national medical organization in the world recommends routine circumcision. As parents have become more educated about the surgery, the circumcision rate in the US, from data supplied by HCIA-Sachs, has fallen to 53%.