After a two-and-a-half year legal battle with Plaintiff William G. Stowell, the doctor and hospital have settled the landmark circumcision case brought against them. The terms of the settlements have not been publicly disclosed. Twenty-one-year old Stowell filed suit December 19, 2000, in the U. S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, against the hospital where he was circumcised and the physician who circumcised him as a newborn.
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Stowell, born on December 22, 1981, in West Islip, NY, was circumcised the following day by his mother’s obstetrician. This case presented the issue of the legal validity of consent for circumcision obtained by a nurse from a mother who was debilitated by the effects of a Caesarian section and painkillers. It also questioned whether a physician could legally and ethically remove healthy, normal tissue from a non-consenting minor for non-therapeutic reasons.
David J. Llewellyn, one of Plaintiff Stowell’s attorneys, said, “William and I are very happy that we were able to resolve this case with both the hospital and the doctor. While a settlement is never an admission of liability, I believe it shows that our allegations were taken seriously. Never again can someone say that a young man who is dissatisfied with his circumcision as an infant is being frivolous when he objects to his mutilation and brings suit to obtain justice. This case should send a message to doctors that they run the risk of a lawsuit each time they circumcise an infant for non-therapeutic reasons, particularly when they rely on the hospital to obtain consent the day after birth. Social or cosmetic concerns provide no justification for harmful surgery. I would expect that this is just the first of many cases that will be brought by angry circumcised young men against their circumcisers.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) first acknowledged that there was no medical justification for routine circumcision in 1971. In 1999, the AAP reaffirmed that it does not recommend routine circumcision. The American Medical Association concurred in 2000, calling routine circumcision “non-therapeutic.” No national or international medical organization recommends routine circumcision.