FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 20, 2000
Attention: Health Editor
Man Sues for Being Circumcised as an Infant
SUFFOLK COUNTY, NEW YORK – An 18- year-old filed suit Tuesday in the US District Court, Eastern District of New York, against the physician that circumcised him as a newborn and the hospital where he was circumcised.
Plaintiff William G. Stowell, born on December 22, 1981 at Good Samaritan Hospital in West Islip, NY, was circumcised the following day by his mother’s obstetrician, Frank P. Cariello, MD. Mr. Stowell recalls being at camp at the age of 14 and noticing that another boy had a foreskin. “I wanted to know why he had one and I didn’t and, more importantly,” says Stowell, “where mine was. Shortly afterwards I formed the opinion that the whole procedure and idea of circumcision were wrong. I came to believe I deserve compensation from the person who scarred and damaged me permanently, and from the hospital where this damage was allowed to occur.”
According to J. Steven Svoboda, Executive Director, Attorneys for the Rights of the Child, “This case highlights the travesty of infant circumcision, which seriously breaches the child’s right to bodily integrity and is incompatible with the doctor’s legal and ethical duties toward the child patient. Circumcising a child without medical necessity is criminal assault. All physicians and hospitals that currently circumcise males without medical justification would be wise to reconsider this practice.”
This landmark case brings into question whether a physician can remove healthy, normal tissue from unconsenting minors for non-therapeutic reasons, and whether a parent can legally consent to a medically contraindicated surgery for a minor child. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) first acknowledged that there was no medical justification for routine circumcision in 1971. Last year, the AAP reaffirmed that it does not recommend routine circumcision. The American Medical Association concurred this year, calling routine circumcision “non-therapeutic.” No national or international medical organization recommends routine circumcision. The United States is the only country that continues to circumcise the majority of its newborns for non-religious reasons. As parents have become more educated about the surgery, the circumcision rate in the US, from data supplied by HCIA-Sachs, has fallen to 57%.
“Mr. Stowell is represented by John L. Juliano of East Northport, NY and David J. Llewellyn of Conyers, Georgia. Mr. Llewellyn regularly represents the victims of circumcision throughout the country.” David Llewellyn, the plaintiff’s attorney, can be reached at 1-770-918-1911.
J. Steven Svoboda, Executive Director of Attorneys for the Rights of the Child, can be reached at 1-510-595-5550.