What is Genital Autonomy? 

“All forms of genital cutting – female genital cutting (FGC), intersex genital cutting, male genital cutting (MGC),
and even cosmetic forms of FGC – are performed in a belief that they will improve the subject’s life.
Genital autonomy is a unified principle that children should be protected from genital cutting that is not medically necessary.
Safeguarding genital autonomy helps societies and individuals explore wounds (common across different forms of genital cutting)
regarding gender, power, the quest for cultural belonging, and social and sexual control.”

J. Steven Svoboda.

Promoting genital autonomy by exploring commonalities between male, female, intersex, and cosmetic female genital cutting.

Global Discourse 2013, Vol.3, No.2: 237-255

Each year in the US, more than 1.2 million children are subjected to non-therapeutic penile circumcision; a medically unnecessary surgery inflicted upon healthy children without a valid medical diagnosis that does not treat any disease, injury or deformity.
Trade organizations (e.g., American Academy of Pediatrics) promote specious and fraudulent health claims to shield themselves from past liability and to perpetuate a profitable cosmetic genital surgery motivated by social custom.
Medical professionals have no legal authority to solicit and perform medically unnecessary surgeries on healthy children that result in permanent modifications, especially of the most private area of their bodies – the genitals.
Impact litigation can establish these principles under the law by challenging the presumptive legal foundations that perpetuate child genital cutting. Bodily integrity is a universal human right and everyone deserves the freedom to decide how much of their genitals they get to keep. It’s time to refocus individual choice where it matters most, with the person who must live with the consequences.

Foundation for Legal Challenges:

1. Parental Consent: Uninformed and Invalid

Parents are rarely informed of the full range of risks, adverse outcomes and disadvantages of circumcision, or of the beneficial alternative of keeping their child genitally intact. Parental consent is inadequate for imposing a permanent genital modification on a healthy child without diagnosis or treatment of disease, injury or deformity. Solicitation of such consent (i.e., by doctors and hospitals) is unethical and inherently illegal. Immigrants with limited English-language comprehension are especially vulnerable.

2. Medical Fraud

Health claims for removing a healthy, functional part of a child’s genital anatomy are specious and fraudulent, especially when non-surgical alternatives exist to accomplish the same alleged benefits.

3. Criminal Battery

Unnecessary surgery is inherently harmful, especially when imposed upon a minor who is unable to consent. Surgery without medical necessity is battery.

4. Government Reimbursement is Unlawful

Federal law mandates that all treatments reimbursed by Medicaid programs must show medical necessity.

Our Attorney Resources page contains published journal articles supporting these claims.

If this issue is new to you, visit Whose Body, Whose Rights?, to watch this groundbreaking and award-winning documentary that aired in 1995 across PBS television stations in the U.S. and is now part of the American Archive of Public Broadcasting.

Pioneering legal and medical advocates endorse GALDEF

“Doctors will put down their scalpels when they realize that the profits from non-therapeutic infant male circumcision are no match against lawsuits asserting fraud and establishing the rights of children to bodily integrity.”

George Denniston, MD

Founder, Doctors Opposing Circumcision

I think this is a great idea. We have needed such a fund for a long time. I have had to do a number of cases to stop a circ either free or at greatly reduced rates. It would be wonderful to have a fund to support such litigation. For example, if we had had a big fund in advance I would have pushed to get involved in the Hironimus case early on and I think we might have had an entirely different result.

David J. Llewellyn


Interest by those subjected to unnecessary childhood genital cutting in seeking legal recourse for the harm done to them is steadily growing. A legal defense and education fund is the next logical and very crucial step in raising the funds needed to bring successful lawsuits in defense of children’s genital autonomy.

J. Steven Svoboda

Exec. Dir., Attorneys For The Rights of The Child

I too support your excellent plan and enthusiastically! There are an endless number of lawsuits that can be brought for battery, breach of fiduciary duty, intentional fraud and constructive fraud as no healthy boy should ever be circumcised; to stop spite circumcisions; to end Medicaid funding in various statutes; to sue the AAP based on its guidelines, and also hospitals for false advertising and inadequate forms for parental permission.

Peter Adler

Prof. of International Law, Univ. of MA

Did you know?

· Most of the world’s men and boys (70%) are genitally intact. [1]

· In the US, circumcision began as a 19th century attempt to prevent boys (and girls) from masturbating. [2]

· The US is the only country that circumcises the majority (55%) of its newborn boys for non-medical and non-religious reasons. [3] Countries that once routinely circumcised male newborns have all but abandoned the custom (Canada, UK, Australia, New Zealand).

· Mothers in US hospitals are routinely solicited to consent to circumcision an average of 8 times. [4]

· In the US between 1.2 and 1.5 million male newborns annually are needlessly subjected to non-medically indicated circumcision. [4]

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