Resources for Attorneys

“Even if a surgery is executed flawlessly, if the surgery were unnecessary,
the surgery in and of itself constitutes harm.”

Tortorella v. Castro, Court of Appeal, Second District, Division 3, California (2006)

“As laudable as the prohibition of a particular type of abuse of girls may be,
it does not logically further the goal of protecting children on a nondiscriminatory basis.”

U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman, United States v. Nagarwala, prosecution of a Muslim doctor in Michigan
who performed minor nicking on the vulvas of her Muslim child-patients

“As someone whose life work has been wrapped up with matters of equal liberty and dignity
without regard to sex, gender, gender identification, or sexual orientation,
I believe the expansion of rights isn’t the exclusive province of the federal judiciary.
Litigating issues like this under state constitutions, in state courts, is an option you should explore.”

Harvard Constitutional Law Professor Laurence H. Tribe, in email correspondence with GALDEF founder Tim Hammond regarding
the constitutionality of laws protecting only females from non-therapeutic genital cutting (April 21, 2021)

“The nature of injustice is that we may not always see it in our own times.”

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy (Obergefell v Hodges, 2015)

Medical and ethical controversies surrounding newborn male circumcision have existed since it was first introduced in America in the late 1800s. In the early 1980s cogent legal and human rights questions began to appear in respected academic journals and the popular press.  This page highlights books, published articles, videos and other resources that attorneys may find informative and useful in their efforts to create impact litigation. Under each tab of this section you will find resources dealing with law, medicine, ethics, human rights, harm documentation and other related topics with regard to the following issues:
CONSENT: Parents who were given no information, insufficient information or misleading information prior to granting consent to circumcision, including vulnerable immigrant parents with little or no English language comprehension.
FALSE CLAIMS: Parents, especially new mothers, victimized by high pressure circumcision marketing and solicitation techniques used by hospitals, doctors and/or other medical staff.
FRAUD: Parents and young men victimized by circumcision resulting from medical fraud.
MEDICAID: Taxpayers who bring legal challenges in those states where medically unnecessary newborn circumcisions are paid for by state Medicaid programs.
REDRESS: Young men age 18 to 20 seeking accountability from those responsible for the inherent harm of non-therapeutic circumcision, as well as parents seeking accountability by medical personnel who forcibly retract their sons’ foreskins, thereby injuring them and claiming circumcision as a ‘medical necessity’.
RESTITUTION: Those seeking restitution for the cost of medical or mental health services for circumcision- related suffering and/or the cost of foreskin restoration procedures; and the establishment of state-based Victim Compensation Funds.
TRANSGENDER: Transgender persons disadvantaged during gender-affirming health care due to a penile circumcision imposed on them in childhood.
WHISTLEBLOWERS: Whistleblowers who disclose systemic fraudulent diagnoses made by physicians and hospitals who bill health insurers for non-existent problems and circumcisions easily avoided by less radical, non-surgical alternatives.
WRONGFUL TERMINATION: Employees in health care, education and other fields who were victimized by workplace bias, discrimination or termination as a result of expressing opposition to non-therapeutic genital cutting of children or support for children’s genital autonomy.

A: Adverse (Harm) Outcomes

C: Culture/Religion

E: Ethics

G: Gender/Equality

H: History

L: Law/Constitutional

M: Medicine

P: Politics

R: Human Rights

Publications 2023:

A/C/M/R  Foreskin restorers: insights into motivations, successes, challenges, and experiences with medical and mental health professionals – An abridged summary of key findings. Hammond T, Sardi LM, Jellison WA, McAllister R, Snyder B, Fahmy MAB. International Journal of Impotence Research. 2023;35(3):pp 1-14. [Unabridged Supplement also available from our website]

“We report results from 1790 fully completed surveys. Adverse physical, sexual, emotional/psychological and self-esteem impacts attributed to circumcision had motivated participants to seek foreskin restoration. Most sought no professional help due to hopelessness, fear, or mistrust. Those who sought help encountered trivialization, dismissal, or ridicule. Most participants recommended restoration. Many professionals are unprepared to assist this population. Circumcision sufferers/foreskin restorers have largely been ill-served by medical and mental health professionals.”

A/C/M/R Comment: Foreskin restorers: insights into motivations, successes, challenges and experiences with medical and mental health professionals. Mokken SE, Özer M, and Timmermans FW. International Journal of Impotence Research. 2023;35:323.

“The results of the study are quite profound and identify a population that largely refrains from seeking professional help in up to 87% of the participants. …A reported 8% started before the age of 18 and 34% between the ages 20–29. The experienced burden, sexual impairment, and affected self-image might therefore impact the rest of their lives greatly and disproportionately.”

C/E/G/M/R  ‘Male circumcision’ and ‘female genital mutilation’: why parents choose the procedures and the case for gender bias in medical nomenclature. Nuzzo, JL. International Journal of Human Rights. 2023:1-24

“Because both procedures involve significant alteration of genitalia, and social/culture reasons are prominent in parents’ decisions for both, the results suggest a gender bias in medical ethics applied to bodily integrity, which manifests itself in nomenclature that expresses negative value judgement toward the female procedure (‘mutilation’) but not the male procedure (‘circumcision’). The results add to emerging evidence of a ‘male empathy gap’ in public health.”

G/M/R  Defending an inclusive right to genital and bodily integrity for children. Townsend, Kate Goldie. International Journal of Impotence Research. 2023;35(1):27-30. doi: 10.1038/s41443-021-00503-x. Epub 2021 Dec 2.

“Given the core political values of Western liberal democracies, including a commitment to human rights, this piece …argues that individual rights to bodily – and especially genital – integrity should take priority over group rights if they come into conflict.”

G/P/R  Medicalised genital cutting in the Global North may impede abandonment efforts in the South. Earp, Brian D. BMJ. 2023;380:p302.

“Selective opposition to FGC “absurdly prevents women from accessing quality health services and then blames them for risking their lives …during circumcision, both males and females run the same immediate surgical risks of uncontrolled bleeding, shock and sepsis yet males are privileged to have these risks mitigated but females are not.”

M Circumcision and HIV Prevention in Southern Africa: WHO Recommendations Questioned. Garenne M, Stiegler N, Bouchard J-P. La revue de l’infirmière. 2023;72(288):34–36.

“This paper summarizes the results of large population-based surveys conducted in southern African countries, the region most affected by AIDS worldwide. These surveys show that HIV prevalence among men aged 40-59 years is the same regardless of circumcision status and type. These results call into question the recommendations of the World Health Organization.”

A/M Immunohistological study of the density and distribution of human penile neural tissue: gradient hypothesis. Cepeda-Emiliani A, Gándara-Cortés M, Otero-Alén M, García H, Suárez-Quintanilla J, García-Caballero T, Gallego R and García-Caballero L. International Journal of Impotence Research. 2023;35:286–305.

“These orthogonal nerve arrays might …have some explanatory value regarding post-circumcision negative penile sensory alterations reported by some men.”

E/M Children’s Sexual Development and Privacy: A Call for Evidence-Based Ethical Policy. Fish M, McCartney MM, Earp BD. Clinical Pediatrics. 2023:1–4. doi:10.1177/00099228231180998

“…the AAP does not regard infant penile circumcision as medically necessary…Nevertheless, whether it is appropriate for parents to request the procedure, or for physicians to alter a child’s sexual anatomy without a valid medical indication, is increasingly debated among bioethicists. Compounding the debate, routine, medicalized penile circumcision of neonates is rare in most countries with similar economic profiles and health care systems to the United States.”

Publications 2022:

A/M  A comprehensive comparison of the early and late complications of surgical circumcision in neonates and children: A cohort study. Siroosbakht S, Razahhaniha B. Health Science Reports. 2022;5:e939.

The risk of complications is higher in neonates than children.

A/M  Neonatal Infant Pain Scale in assessing pain and pain relief for newborn male circumcision. Bellieni CV. International Journal of Impotence Research. 2022;35(3):282–285.

None of the analgesic strategies used obtained the absence of pain. Some differences between circumcision techniques can be noticed, but most assessments exceed the score of 3, chosen as the clinically significant pain.

A/M  Potentially under-recognized late-stage physical and psychosexual complications of non-therapeutic neonatal penile circumcision: a qualitative and quantitative analysis of self-reports from an online community forum . Uberoi M, Abdulcadir J, Ohl DA, Santiago JE, Rana GK, and Anderson FWJ. International Journal of Impotence Research. 2022;35(3):1-8.2022.

“We identified three major categories of complications: physical such as pain during erections and lost sensitivity, psychological such as anxiety and violation of autonomy, and sexual such as feeling that the sexual experience was negatively altered or being unable to complete a sexual experience. We also identified a ‘discovery process’ where some men described coming into awareness of their circumcision status. These findings suggest that neonatal circumcision can have significant adverse consequences for adult men. The removal of normal foreskin tissue should be limited to adult men who choose the procedure for cosmetic reasons or when medically indicated.”

G/M/P  Genital Cutting as Gender Oppression: Time to Revisit the WHO Paradigm. Earp, Brian D. Frontiers in Human Dynamics. 2022;4:778592. doi: 10.3389/fhumd.2022.778592

“The selective efforts of the WHO to eliminate only non-Western associated FGC exposes the organization to credible accusations of racism and cultural imperialism and paradoxically undermines its own stated goals: namely, securing the long-term interests and equal rights of women and girls in FGC-practicing societies.”

A/M Deficiencies and biases in professional understanding of the effects of childhood male genital cutting: Comments on “Psychological, psychosocial, and psychosexual aspects of penile circumcision” by Marcus C. Tye and Lauren Sardi. Hammond T. International Journal of Impotence Research. 2022; 35:249–251.

“Future policy statements on penile circumcision should not only emphasize the necessity of listening to the voices of the affected and encourage more investigation, but they should also address the need for a unified ethical and human rights stance applicable to all children at risk of non-medically indicated genital cutting, regardless of whether the child’s outward sex characteristics appear to be male, female or intersex.”

A/M  Psychological, psychosocial, and psychosexual aspects of penile circumcision. Tye MC, Sardi LM. International Journal of Impotence Research. 2023;35(3):242-248.

“We argue that additional attention should be paid to the potential for long-term effects of the procedure that may not be properly considered when the patient is an infant or child.”

C/G Against legalising female ‘circumcision’ of minors: a reply to ‘The prosecution of Dawoodi Bohra women’ by Richard Shweder. Earp, Brian D. Global Discourse. 2022;12(1):47–76.

“Western law and policy on child genital cutting is currently beset with cultural, religious and sex-based double standards. …I argue that ‘legalising’ childhood FGC so as to bring it into line with current treatment of childhood MGC is not an acceptable solution to these problems. Instead, all medically unnecessary genital cutting of non-consenting persons should be opposed on moral and legal grounds and discouraged by all appropriate means.”

C/E/G/L/M  Non-therapeutic Penile Circumcision of Minors: Current Controversies in UK Law and Medical Ethics. Lempert A, Chegwidden J, Steinfeld R, Earp BD. Clinical Ethics. 2022:1-19. DOI: 10.1177/14777509221104703

 “…[G]oing forward, both in law and medical ethics, children of all sexes and genders will have to be treated equally with respect to parental decision-making about medically unnecessary genital surgeries.”

C/E/G  Reconsidering the role of patriarchy in upholding female genital modifications: analysis of contemporary and pre-industrial societies. Gruenbaum E, Earp BD and Shweder RA. International Journal of Impotence Research. 2023;35:202–211.

“… almost all societies that practice ritual female genital modification also practice ritual male genital modification, often for comparable reasons on children of similar ages, with the female rites led by women and the male rites led by men. In contrast, then, to the situation for boys in various cultures, girls are not singled out for genital modification on account of their sex or gender; nor do the social meanings of the female rites necessarily reflect a lower status.”

Publications 2021:

E/M The need for a unified ethical stance on child genital cutting. Earp BD, Shahvisi A, Reis-Dennis S, Reis E. Nursing Ethics. 2021:1–12. DOI: 10.1177/0969733020983397

“It is time for Western healthcare organizations…to adopt a more consistent concept of health and a unified ethical stance when it comes to child genital cutting practices.”

M Sensory innervation of the human male prepuce: Meissner’s corpuscles predominate. García-Mesa Y, García-Piqueras J, Cobo R, Martín-Cruces J, Suazo I, García-Suárez O, Feito J, Vega JA. Journal of Anatomy. 2021:00:1–11. DOI: 10.1111/joa.13481

“Our results indicate that human male preputial Meissner’s corpuscles share the immunohistochemical profile of digital Meissner’s corpuscles, which is considered to be necessary for mechanotransduction.”

M Systematic review of complications arising from male circumcision. Iacob SI, Feinn RS, Lauren Sardi L. BJUI Compass. 2021:1–25. DOI: 10.1002/bco2.123

“It is not ethical to push onto a patient or his family a procedure that they are unsure or uninformed about. Other families will have already decided to not circumcise their sons. Their decisions must be respected.”

E/M Male or female genital cutting: why ‘health benefits’ are morally irrelevant. Earp BD. Journal of Medical Ethics. 2021;47(e92):1–10. doi:10.1136/medethics-2020-106782.

“…[C]hildren of all sexes and genders have an equal right to (future) bodily autonomy. This includes the right to decide whether their own ‘private’ anatomy should exposed to surgical risk, much less permanently altered, for reasons they themselves endorse when they are sufficiently mature.”

C/E/G/M Current critiques of the WHO policy on female genital mutilation. Earp BD and Johnsdotter S. International Journal Impotence Research. 2021;33(1):196–209.

“…we highlight recent comparative studies of medically unnecessary genital cutting of all types, including those affecting adult women and teenagers in Western societies, individuals with differences of sex development (DSD), transgender persons, and males. In so doing, we attempt to clarify the grounds for a growing critical consensus that current anti-FGM laws and policies may be ethically incoherent, empirically unsupportable, and legally unsustainable.”

G/R/M/P World Association for Sexual Health (WAS): Declaration on Sexual Pleasure (esp. p2, Item A):

“[We urge] all governments, international intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, academic institutions, health and education authorities, the media, private sector actors, and society at large … to: Promote sexual pleasure in law and policy as a fundamental part of sexual health and well-being, grounded in the principles of sexual rights as human rights, including self-determination, non-discrimination, privacy, bodily integrity, and equality”

See also World Association for Sexual Health (WAS): Declaration on Sexual Rights (2014, esp. p2, Item 3).

Everyone has the right to control and decide freely on matters related to their sexuality and their body. This includes the choice of sexual behaviors, practices, partners and relationships with due regard to the rights of others. Free and informed decision making requires free and informed consent prior to any sexually-related testing, interventions, therapies, surgeries, or research.”

Publications 2020:

C/E/G/M Why was the U.S. ban on female genital mutilation ruled unconstitutional, and what does this have to do with male circumcision? Earp BD. Ethics, Medicine & Public Health. 2020;15(100533):1–13.

“…feminist scholars and advocates of children’s rights now increasingly argue that efforts to protect girls from non-consensual FGC must be rooted in a sex and gender-neutral (that is, human) right to bodily integrity, if these efforts are to be successful in the long-run.”

C/E/M Is Circumcision a Fraud? Adler PW, Van Howe RS, Wisdom T and Daase F. Cornell Journal of Law and Public Policy. 2020;30:45–107.

“…physicians are not allowed to take orders from parents to perform unnecessary genital surgery on children. …we conclude that MGC exposes physicians, hospitals, and the AAP to large and possibly uninsured liability.”

A/M Neonatal male circumcision is associated with altered adult socio-affective processing. Miani A, Di Bernardo GA, Højgaard AD, Earp BD, et al. Heliyon. 2020;6(11):e05566.

“Consistent with longitudinal studies on infant attachment, early circumcision might have an impact on adult socio-affective traits or behavior.”

Publications 2019:

A/M  A longitudinal population analysis of cumulative risks of circumcision. Hung YC, Chang DC, Westfal ML, et al. Journal of Surgical Research. 2019;233:111-117.

“Circumcision has a complication rate higher than previously recognized. Most patients with late complications after circumcision received an operative circumcision revision.”

M Normal and Abnormal Prepuce. Mohamed A Baky Fahmy, MD, FRCS. Springer Nature, Switzerland. 2020. 312 pages. ISBN 978-3-030-37620-8.

– and –

M Complications in Male Circumcision. Mohamed A Baky Fahmy, MD, FRCS. Elsevier Publishing, St. Louis. 2019. 193 pages. ISBN: 978-0-323-68127-8.

These recently published medical textbooks – written by the Professor of Pediatric Surgery at Al Azher University (Cairo, Egypt) and richly endowed with high quality color photographs – provide an invaluable supplement to existing U.S. medical textbooks that merely describe the foreskin as a “flap of skin” and fail to adequately teach medical students about the extensive array of immediate, short and long-term consequences of male circumcision. They are indispensable additions to the libraries of every attorney wishing to achieve a complete understanding of the penile prepuce and the complications of male circumcision.

A/M Frequency and Variability of Advice Given to Parents on Care of the Uncircumcised Penis by Pediatric Residents: A Need to Improve Education. Malhotra NR, Rosoklija I, Shannon R, D’Oro A, and Liu DB. Urology. 2019;136:218−224.

“…pediatric residents currently lack confidence in providing parents advice on preputial care and are unlikely to offer such advice. When offered, the advice given is highly variable.”

C/E/R The child’s right to bodily integrity. Earp BD. In D. Edmonds (Ed.). Ethics and the Contemporary World (pp. 217-235) Abingdon and New York: Routledge. Author’s copy available:’s_right_to_bodily_integrity

“An autonomous person is wronged by an infringement of their BI if they did not consent to it. If a person is incapable of consenting because they are temporarily non-autonomous – as in the case of an intoxicated adult or a pre-autonomous child – the infringement should be delayed until the individual becomes autonomous and can make their own decision.”

C/R The child’s right to genital integrity. Townsend KG. Philosophy and Social Criticism. 2019:1–21. DOI: 10.1177/0191453719854212

“I make a case for the child’s inviolable right to genital integrity, based on the relationship between the child’s genital integrity and their sexual and genital autonomy in adulthood. I outline and respond to potential criticisms, namely that (i) male genital cutting has medical benefits that outweigh its harms and that (ii) female genital cutting is more socially harmful than male genital cutting.”

E/R Medically Unnecessary Genital Cutting and the Rights of the Child: Moving Toward Consensus. Brussels Collaboration on Bodily Integrity. American Journal of Bioethics. 2019;10:17–28, DOI: 10.1080/15265161.2019.1643945

“We are (91) physicians, ethicists, nurse-midwives, public health professionals, legal scholars, political scientists, anthropologists, psychologists, sociologists, philosophers, and feminists from Africa, Asia, Australasia, Europe, the Middle East, and the Americas with interdisciplinary expertise in child genital cutting practices across a wide range of cultural contexts. … Together, we argue for a more coherent, sex- and gender-inclusive approach that recognizes (1) the special vulnerability of young people—regardless of the ethnicity, religion, or immigration status of their parents—to medically unnecessary genital cutting and (2) the moral importance of bodily integrity, respect for bodily/sexual boundaries, and consent.”

E/L Is Circumcision Unethical and Unlawful? A Response to Morris et al. Svoboda JS, Adler PW, Van Howe RS. Journal of Medicine, Law & Ethics. 2019;7(1):75–95. DOI 10.7590/221354019X15538518338616

“In 2016, we argued that non-therapeutic male circumcision before the age of consent is unethical and unlawful. In a response article published in 2018, Morris and colleagues sought to undermine our claims, raising a number of arguments that, we will demonstrate in the present essay, lack both logical and empirical support.”

C/E/R Mutilation or Enhancement: What is morally at stake in body alterations? Earp BD. Practical Ethics. 2019.

“…the sheer alteration of healthy genital tissue is not inherently mutilating (as in a net harm, or net negative). Rather, a person could interpret altered genitalia in a wide range of ways, including as improved or enhanced; and this is in fact the majority way that persons with altered genitalia do regard their own bodies, as far as I can tell from reading the primary and secondary literatures on this topic. What makes medically unnecessary genital cutting morally wrong is its being done non-consensually. It does not matter if it is mutilating or not – that is up to the person who is affected to decide – what matters is that it should be that person’s own choice, when they are competent to make such a decision.”

E/L The law and ethics of female genital cutting. Shahvisi A and Earp BD. In S. Creighton & L-M Liao (Eds.) Female Genital Cosmetic Surgery: Solution to What Problem? (pp. 58–71). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

“…all nontherapeutic genital alterations to female minors are criminalised, typically with harsh penalties for transgressing the law, while even more invasive nontherapeutic genital alterations to male and intersex minors are permitted and almost entirely unregulated”

Publications 2018:

E/M Circumcision of male infants and children as a public health measure in developed countries: A critical assessment of recent evidence. Frisch M and Earp BD. Global Public Health. 2018;13(5):626–641. (Originally ublished online: 19 May 2016)

“In December of 2014, an anonymous working group under the United States’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a draft of the first-ever federal recommendations regarding male circumcision. …Although we set aside the burgeoning bioethical debate surrounding the moral permissibility of performing non-therapeutic circumcisions on healthy minors, we argue that, from a scientific and medical perspective, current evidence suggests that such circumcision is not an appropriate public health measure for developed countries such as the United States.”

A: Adverse (Harm) Outcomes

C: Culture/Religion

E: Ethics

G: Gender/Equality

H: History

L: Law/Constitutional

M: Medicine

P: Politics

R: Human Rights

P: Politics

R: Human Rights

Publications 2017:

A/E/G/R  Forced male circumcision: gender-based violence in Kenya. Auchter J. International Affairs. 2017;93(6):1339–1356.

“Female genital mutilation has been widely addressed by scholars and policymakers in a global effort to eradicate the practice, …Though some have argued that male circumcision is an analogous practice, it is not accepted as inherently a human rights issue, …I explore cases of forced adult male circumcision as a form of gendered sexual violence.”

[GALDEF comment: Gender-based violence against males can occur at any age, especially when it involves forced genital cutting of vulnerable newborns and children.]

C/M Cultural Bias in American Medicine: The Case of Infant Male Circumcision. Earp BD and Shaw DM. Journal of Pediatric Ethics. 2017;1(1):8–26.

“In 2012 the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released a policy statement and technical report stating that the health benefits of newborn male circumcision outweigh the risks. In response, a group of mostly European doctors suggested that this conclusion may have been due to cultural bias among the AAP Task Force on Circumcision, in part because the AAP’s conclusion differed from that of international peer organizations despite relying on a similar evidence base.”

A/M Circumcision, Sexual Experience and Harm. Earp BD, Darby R. University of Pennsylvania Journal of International Law [Online Symposium]. 2017;37(2):1–56.

“We also highlight some of the inconsistencies in the current legal treatment of male versus female forms of nontherapeutic childhood genital alteration, and suggest that problematically gendered assumptions about the sexual body may play a role in bringing about and sustaining such inconsistencies.

A/C/M/R Gender and Genital Cutting: A New Paradigm. Earp BD and Steinfeld R. In Teresa Giménez Barbat (Ed.), Gifted Women, Fragile Men. Euromind Monographs – 2, Brussels: ALDE Group-EU Parliament. 2017.

“Moral and legal opposition to the non-therapeutic cutting of children’s genitals has traditionally focused on female children. In recent years, however, a growing movement of scholars, activists, and individuals affected by childhood genital cutting have argued that all children, regardless of sex or gender, should be protected from such intimate violations. By drawing attention to the overlapping harms to which female, male, and intersex children may be exposed as a result of having their genitals cut, this movement posits a sex and gender neutral—that is, human—right to bodily integrity and genital autonomy. This article introduces and outlines some of the main arguments supporting this perspective.”

A/C/M/R Long-term adverse outcomes from neonatal circumcision reported in a survey of 1,008 men: an overview of health and human rights implications. Hammond T and Carmack A. International Journal of Human Rights. 2017;21(2): 189–218.

“Findings highlight important health and human rights implications resulting from infringements on the bodily integrity and future autonomy rights of boys, which may aid health care and human rights professionals in understanding this emerging vanguard of men who report suffering from circumcision.

C/L/M Reason and Paradox in Medical and Family Law: Shaping Children’s Bodies. Earp BD, Hendry J, Thomson M. Medical Law Review. 2017:1–24. doi:10.1093/medlaw/fwx027

“Legal outcomes often depend on the adjudication of what may appear to be straightforward distinctions. In this article, we consider two such distinctions that appear in medical and family law deliberations: the distinction between religion and culture and between therapeutic and non-therapeutic. These distinctions can impact what constitutes ‘reasonable parenting’ or a child’s ‘best interests’ and thus the limitations that may be placed on parental actions. Such distinctions are often imagined to be asocial facts, there for the judge to discover. We challenge this view…”

C/L/M Bodily Integrity, Embodiment, and the Regulation of Parental Choice. Fox M and Thomson M. Journal of Law and Society. 2017;44(14):501–531. ISSN: 0263-323X

“In this article we develop a new model of bodily integrity that we designate `embodied integrity’. We deploy it to argue that non-therapeutic interventions on children should be considered within a decision-making framework that prioritizes embodied integrity. This would counter the excessive decision-making power that law currently accords to parents, protecting the child’s immediate and future interests. Focusing on legal responses to genital cutting, we suggest that current legal understandings of bodily integrity are impoverished and problematic.”

C/L/E/G/M/R Girls and Boys as Victims: Asymmetries and dynamics in European public discourses on genital modifications in children. Johnsdotter S. International Seminar FGM/C: From Medicine to Critical Anthropology. Rome, 24-25 November 2017.

“Sooner or later, European societies need to respond to the following questions, which, in reality, are one and the same question formulated from different perspectives:

– Why should girls not enjoy the same opportunities as boys to be incorporated into cultural and religious communities through a ritual involving minor cutting of their genitals?

– Why should boys not have the same legal protection as girls against non-medically motivated alterations of their genitals?”

C/L/E/G/M/R Ban without Prosecution, Conviction without Punishment, and Circumcision without Cutting: A Critical Appraisal of Anti-FGM Laws in Europe. La Barbera MC Global Jurist. 2017;17(2). DOI: 10.1515/gj-2016-0012

“Type I, better known as “circumcision”, is the mildest form of intervention and may range from removal of the clitoral prepuce (type Ia) to partial removal of the clitoris (type Ib). This type of intervention is comparable both to ritual male circumcision and genitoplasty involving laser reduction of the prepuce.”

A/M/R Male Circumcision Grief: Effective and Ineffective Therapeutic Approaches. Watson L and Golden T. New Male Studies: An International Journal. 2017;6(2):109–125.

“A woman patient presents with grief arising from when she was genitally mutilated as a girl. Ideally a therapist would support this woman to work through her grief …In contrast, in the case of the man, anecdotal reports suggest that a therapist is likely to joke about circumcision, say he is “nuts,” justify his circumcision using health reasons or tell him he should be grateful, rather than support the man to work through his grief. “The women’s pain is usually seen as a call to action. People want to help out somehow. The man’s pain is something that people want to avoid as if it were a taboo.”

Publications 2016:

E/L Circumcision Is Unethical and Unlawful. Svoboda JS, Adler PW, Van Howe RS. Journal of Medicine, Law & Ethics. 2016;44:263–282. DOI: 10.1177/1073110516654120 (see also authors’ 2019 response to criticisms from Morris)

“No national medical association any­where recommends the procedure. As the balance of expert and popular opinion moves toward firmly opposing this procedure, courts will inevitably find themselves unable to overlook the inconsistency of circumcision with medical professionals’ ethical and legal duties to the child. Soon the ancient Hippocratic Oath, ‘First, do no harm’ will be applied to male cir­cumcision.”

C/E/L/M Between Moral Relativism and Moral Hypocrisy: Reframing the debate on “FGM”. Earp BD. Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal. 2016;26(2):105–144.

“…since some forms of female genital alteration are comparatively minor, and can be done under sterile conditions, then it seems to me …that some genital-altering customs that are popular in Western countries, such as infant male circumcision …might need to be considered to be much more morally problematic than they currently are considered to be.”

A/M Cultural background, non-therapeutic circumcision and the risk of meatal stenosis and other urethral stricture disease: Two nationwide register-based cohort studies in Denmark 1977-2013. Frisch M and Simonsen J. The Surgeon. 2016:1-12.

” Our study provides population-based epidemiological evidence that circumcision removes the natural protection against meatal stenosis and, possibly, other urethral stricture diseases (USDs) as well.”

Publications 2015:

L/M/R In the Matter of B(oy) and G(irl). (Sir) Munby J. Case No: LJ13C00295. 2015;Leeds Family Court:Royal Courts of Justice/Strand, London.

“Circumcision involves the removal of a significant amount of tissue, creates an obvious alteration to the appearance of the genitals and leaves a more or less prominent scar around the circumference of the penis. …I am concerned with a narrower question, namely how one accommodates the law’s seemingly very different approaches to FGM and male circumcision within the provisions of section 31 of the Children Act 1989. …In my judgment, if FGM Type IV amounts to significant harm, as in my judgment it does, then the same must be so of male circumcision. … Society and the law, including family law, are prepared to tolerate non-therapeutic male circumcision performed for religious or even for purely cultural or conventional reasons, while no longer being willing to tolerate FGM in any of its forms. …I conclude therefore that although both involve significant harm, there is a very clear distinction in family law between FGM and male circumcision.”

E/L/M/R Do the benefits of male circumcision outweigh the risks? A critique of the proposed CDC guidelines. Earp BD. Frontiers in Pediatrics. 2015;3(18):1–6. doi: 10.3389/fped.2015.00018

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have announced a set of provisional guidelines concerning male circumcision, in which they suggest that the benefits of the surgery outweigh the risks… I suggest that the CDC relies more heavily than is warranted on studies from Sub-Saharan Africa that neither translate well to North American populations nor to circumcisions performed before an age of sexual debut; that it employs an inadequate conception of risk in its benefit vs. risk analysis; that it fails to consider the anatomy and functions of the penile prepuce … that it underestimates the adverse consequences associated with circumcision by focusing on short-term surgical complications rather than long-term harms; that it portrays both the risks and benefits of circumcision in a misleading manner, thereby undermining the possibility of obtaining informed consent; that it evinces a superficial and selective analysis of the literature on sexual outcomes associated with circumcision; and that it gives less attention than is desirable to ethical issues surrounding autonomy and bodily integrity. I conclude that circumcision before an age of consent is not an appropriate health-promotion strategy.”

E/M Hybrid forum or network? The social and political construction of an international ‘technical consultation’: Male circumcision and HIV prevention. Giami A, Perrey C, Oliveira Mendonça AL, Camargo KR. Global Public Health. 2015;10(5–6):589–606.

“…this consultation cannot be described as the constitution of a ‘hybrid forum’, which is characterised by its openness to a debate as well as a plurality of issues formulated by the actors and of resources used by them. On the contrary, little room was allowed for contradictory discussions, as if the decision had already been made before the Montreux consultation.”

E/L/M/R Constituting Children’s Bodily Integrity. Hill BJ. 64 Duke Law Journal 1295. 2015;Case Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2014-35.

“Children have constitutional rights to bodily integrity. When children are abused by state actors, courts do not hesitate to vindicate those rights. Moreover, in at least some cases, children’s bodily integrity rights protect them within the family, giving them the right to avoid unwanted physical intrusions regardless of their parents’ wishes. …However, the constitutional right of minors to bodily integrity raises complex philosophical questions concerning the proper relationship between family and state, as well as difficult doctrinal and conceptual issues concerning the ever-murky idea of state action. This Article canvasses those issues with the ultimate goal of delineating a constitutional right of bodily security and autonomy for children.”

E/L/M/R Female genital mutilation and male circumcision: toward an autonomy-based ethical framework. Earp BD. Medicolegal and Bioethics. 2015;5:89–104.

“The non-therapeutic alteration of children’s genitals is typically discussed in two separate ethical discourses: one for girls, in which such alteration is conventionally referred to as ‘female genital mutilation’ (or FGM), and one for boys, in which it is conventionally referred to as ‘male circumcision.’ …As an alternative, I propose an ethical framework for evaluating such alterations that is based upon considerations of bodily autonomy and informed consent, rather than sex or gender.”

Publications 2014:

A/C/G Constructing phallic beauty: Foreskin restoration, genital cutting and Circumcisionism. Wisdom T. In: McNamara S. (Ed.). (Re)Possessing beauty: Politics, Poetics, Change. 2014:93–134. Inter-Disciplinary Press, Oxford.

“The unnecessary procedure of male circumcision is largely performed for secular reasons in the Western world, which is sustained by a variety of rationalisations. Among these reasons is aesthetic value, which is one of the dominant discourses that propagate circumcisionism. Circumcisionism is defined as the hegemonic view that genital cutting is a normative and acceptable practice. Amputation of the foreskin is a way for a cutting culture to express hegemonic conceptions of masculinity and male beauty.”

A/L/M Should Unnecessary Harmful Nontherapeutic Cosmetic Surgery be Criminalized? Baker DJ. New Criminal Law Review. 2014;17(4):587–630. ISSN1933-4192.

“The famous English case of R. v. Brown will be discussed to outline the core legal case for criminalization. This article does not aim to provide a comparative study of the U.S. and English authorities, but rather aims to make theoretical arguments for criminalization, and thus, works from the legal premise that in most states the U.S. courts have taken a similar position to that taken in the seminal English House of Lords decision in R. v. Brown.”

C/E/L/R Can Culture Justify Infant Circumcision? Sarajlic E. Res Publica. 2014;20:327–343. DOI: 10.1007/s11158-G14-9254-x

“The paper addresses arguments in the recent philosophical and bioethical literature claiming that social and cultural benefits can justify non-therapeutic male infant circumcision. It rejects these claims by referring to the open future argument, according to which infant circumcision is morally unjustifiable because it violates the child’s right to an open future.”

Publications 2013:

E/M Male Infant Circumcision as a ‘HIV Vaccine’. Lyons B. Public Health Ethics. 2013;6(1):90−103.

“It is morally problematic to operate on thousands of male infants each year for little benefit to children qua children. It is also argued that the use of the term ‘surgical vaccine’ to describe the procedure is both inaccurate and misleading.”

L Is Circumcision Legal? Adler PW. Richmond Journal of Law and the Public Interest. 2013;XVI(iii):439–483.

“This leaves the argument that circumcision is legally justified because it is preventive medicine. As the ethicist Margaret Somerville has written, it is a common error to believe that this justifies circumcision. Amputating any body part would have medical benefits but would violate the rights of the child. …Moreover, physicians and parents would need to prove that the surgery is in the best interests of the child, which includes proving that the child, if able, would have chosen the surgery for himself. Circumcision fails all of these tests.”

M/R The Completely Unregulated Practice of Male Circumcision: Human Rights’ Abuse Enshrined in Law? Geisheker JV. New Male Studies: An International Journal. 2013;(2)1:18–45. ISSN 1839-7816

“The author details a “permissive and incautious” milieu, including a lack of qualifications for circumcisers, rudimentary training, septic non-clinical settings, withheld anesthesia and analgesia, sub-optimal surgical protocols, a lack of back-up resources, minimal post-operative observation, minimal legal remedies, and other shortcomings. It is argued that serious inquiry must ethically precede blanket legal protections accommodating atavistic adult urges.”

E/L/R After Cologne: male circumcision and the law: Parental right, religious liberty or criminal assault? Merkel R and Putzke H. Journal of Medical Ethics. 2013;39(7):444–449.

“…after a resounding decision by a Cologne district court that non-therapeutic circumcision constitutes bodily assault, the German legislature responded by enacting a new statute expressly designed to permit male circumcision even outside of medical settings. We first criticize the normative foundations upon which such a legal concession seems to rest, and then analyse two major flaws in the new German law which we consider emblematic of the difficulty that any attempt to protect medically irrelevant genital cutting is bound to face.”

E/L/R Infant circumcision: the last stand for the dead dogma of parental (sovereignal) rights. Van Howe RS. Journal of Medical Ethics. 2013;39:475–481.

“J S Mill used the term ‘dead dogma’ to describe a belief that has gone unquestioned for so long and to such a degree that people have little idea why they accept it or why they continue to believe it. …In this essay, it is argued that the notion that parents have a right to make decisions concerning their children’s bodies and minds-irrespective of the child’s best interests-is a dead dogma.”

E/L/R The child’s right to an open future: is the principle applicable to non-therapeutic circumcision? Darby RJL. Journal of Medical Ethics. 2013;39:463–468.

“The principle of the child’s right to an open future was first proposed by the legal philosopher Joel Feinberg and developed further by bioethicist Dena Davis. The principle holds that children possess a unique class of rights called rights in trust—rights that they cannot yet exercise, but which they will be able to exercise when they reach maturity. Parents should not, therefore, take actions that permanently foreclose on or pre-empt the future options of their children, but leave them the greatest possible scope for exercising personal life choices in adulthood.”

C/E/M/R Cultural Bias in the AAP’s 2012 Technical Report and Policy Statement on Male Circumcision. Frisch M, Aigrain Y, Baruskas V, et al. Pediatrics. 2013;131(4):796–800. DOI: 10.1542/peds.2012-2896

NOTE: The 2012 AAP circumcision policy automatically expired in 2017 and as of 2023 had not been reaffirmed.

“Seen from the outside, cultural bias reflecting the normality of nontherapeutic male circumcision in the United States seems obvious, and the report’s conclusions are different from those reached by physicians in other parts of the Western world, including Europe, Canada, and Australia.”

E/G/M/R Promoting genital autonomy by exploring commonalities between male, female, intersex, and cosmetic female genital cutting. J. Steven Svoboda. Global Discourse. 2013;3(2):237–255.

“Genital autonomy is a unified principle that children should be protected from genital cutting that is not medically necessary. Safeguarding genital autonomy encompasses helping societies and individuals to explore wounds common across different forms of genital cutting regarding gender, power, the quest for cultural belonging, and social and sexual control.”

E/L/R Circumcision of male infants as a human rights violation. Svoboda JS. Journal of Medical Ethics. 2013;39(7):469–474.

“Every infant has a right to bodily integrity. Removing healthy tissue from an infant is only permissible if there is an immediate medical indication. In the case of infant male circumcision there is no evidence of an immediate need to perform the procedure. As a German court recently held, any benefit to circumcision can be obtained by delaying the procedure until the male is old enough to give his own fully informed consent.”

Publications 2012:

C/G/R Questioning Circumcisionism: Feminism, Gender Equity, and Human Rights. Wisdom T. Righting Wrongs: A Journal of Human Rights. 2012;2(1):1–32.

“For decades feminists worldwide have addressed and combated the harmful practice of female genital mutilation, while largely overlooking male circumcision as genital mutilation. The practices of male and female circumcisions are the result of mainstream ideologies that shape our understandings and consciousness of sexuality and health. The larger framework within which circumcision operates is referred to as “circumcisionism.” Circumcisionism is the hegemonic view that genital circumcision is a normative and acceptable practice. This paper focuses on circumcision of non-consenting male minors, arguing that it is genital mutilation and that the practice should be a feminist issue, as well as a human rights concern. Feminists are encouraged to recognize male circumcision and that Western culture embraces genital mutilation as a perfunctory, yet harmful practice.”

C/G/L/M/R Violating the Rights of the Child: Harmful practices based on tradition, culture, religion or superstition. Report to the United Nations by the International NGO Council on Violence against Children. 2012:21–22(male circumcision); 26 (female genital mutilation); 35 (intersex genital cutting).

“All forms of violence against children, no matter how light, are unacceptable”

“…frequency, severity of harm and intent to harm are not prerequisites for the definitions of violence.”

“ …The CRC (Article 14) upholds the child’s right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.”

“…parents and others cannot quote their adult religious beliefs to justify perpetrating harmful practices on children, which violate the child’s rights, without the child’s informed consent.”

L/M/R The new politics of male circumcision: HIV/AIDS, health law and social justice.. Fox M and Thomson M. Legal Studies. 2012;32(2):255–281. DOI: 10.1111/j.1748-121X.2011.00218.x

“In line with a social justice approach, we argue that public health initiatives must comply with international ethico-legal standards and be attentive to the emergence of an international human right to health. The shift in analytical frame that we propose has the potential not only to make us re-think our approach to the ethics and legality of male circumcision by challenging its construction as a familial decision but also to impact on the need for a broader conceptualisation of health law as rooted in social justice.”

Publications 2011:

L/M Is it lawful to use Medicaid to pay for circumcision? Adler PW. Journal of Law and Medicine. 2011;19:335–353.

“The fundamental principle of Medicaid law is that Medicaid only covers necessary medical treatments after the diagnosis of a current medical condition. Physicians and hospitals face severe penalties for charging Medicaid for circumcisions. Medicaid officials and the Federal and State Governments are also required to end coverage. It is unlawful to circumcise and to allow the circumcision of healthy boys at the expense of the government and taxpayers.”

Publications 2009: 

L/M/R A Treatise from the Trenches: Why are Circumcision Lawsuits So Hard to Win? Svoboda JS. In: G. Denniston et al. (eds.) Circumcision and Human Rights. 201–217. Springer Science + Business Media B.V.

“General difficulties in bringing circumcision lawsuits include (1) financial risks; (2) procedural difficulties; (3) misconceptions and compassion misallocation among judges, lawyers, jury members, the media, and the general public; (4) constraints unique to circumcision lawsuits that are imposed by statutes of limitation and statutes of repose; (5) need for parental participation in lawsuits; (6) problem of damages not being atrocious enough to justify litigation; and (7) the scarcity of helpful case law.”

E/L/R Framing Male Circumcision as a Human Rights Issue? Contributions to the Debate Over the Universality of Human Rights. DeLaet DL. Journal of Human Rights. 2009;8(4):405-426. DOI: 10.1080/14754830903324795

“Although this article acknowledges sharp differences between the most extreme forms of female genital mutilation and male circumcision as it is most widely practiced, this article concludes that the most common forms of male and female circumcision are not sufficiently divergent practices to warrant a differential response from the international community and that there are more similarities between the two practices than is typically acknowledged.”

E/L/R Boldt v Boldt. Davis D. Journal of Clinical Ethics. 2009;20(3):241–243. Available:

“…the court was correct to leave the decision to Misha. Had Misha been uncertain and equivocal in his statement to the judge, she still should have ordered the father not to circumcise the boy, so as to leave him free to make up his own mind later on.”

See also: Boldt and Boldt – Appeal, 2 1 0 Or App 368, 150 P3d 1 1 15 (2006).

FINAL UPDATE: PDF Summary 2004-2009. Also available at:

Publications 2007:

E/L Informed Consent for Routine Infant Circumcision: A Proposal. Soloman D. New York Law Review. 2007;52:215–245.

“In the final analysis, we must acknowledge that with all the medical arguments and media hype put to the side, circumcision is an issue of sexual autonomy. As such, LGBT individuals bring an important perspective to this debate. The LGBT community knows first hand about the issue of having our sexual freedom and individuality suppressed by others. Even if we assume that parents have the right to make this decision for their sons, it helps to always have the human rights issue in the background. We should always remind ourselves that we are talking about another human being’s genitals, and that this person will one day have to live with the consequences of a choice made for him by another.”

E/L/M/R The Case Against Circumcision. Hill G. Journal of Men’s Health and Gender. 2007;4(3):318–323.

“Male circumcision is harmful because it excises healthy tissue and permanently impairs beneficial physiological functions. Male circumcision also causes psychological problems that tend to perpetuate the cycle of abuse. Male circumcision is a costly diversion of medical resources away from beneficial services. Male circumcision violates legal rights, human rights, and ethical standards.”

Publications 2006:

L Tortorella v. Castro. Court of Appeal, Second District, Division 3, California (2006).

“Even if a surgery is executed flawlessly, if the surgery were unnecessary, the surgery in and of itself constitutes harm.”

A/M Incidence of Meatal Stenosis following Neonatal Circumcision in a Primary Care Setting. Van Howe RS. Clinical Pediatrics. 2006;45(1):49–54.

“Meatal stenosis may be the most common complication following neonatal circumcision.”

Publications 2005:

E/L An Examination of Legal and Ethical Issues Surrounding Male Circumcision: The Canadian Context. Bouclin S. International Journal of Men’s Health. 2005;4(3):205–222.

“Public awareness is increasing, as evidenced by the numerous parents, health practitioners, children’s rights activists, ethicists, lawyers, and concerned citizens who have voiced their opinion. Insofar as male circumcision is the removal of healthy erogenous flesh without medical purpose and without the consent of the child and given that it is a painful procedure, neonatal circumcision is unnecessary and may well violate a child’s bodily integrity.”

E/L Short Changed? The Law and Ethics of Male Circumcision. Fox M and Thomson M. International Journal of Children’s Rights. 2005;13:161–181.

“We explore this process of constructing harm through a consideration of the law’s response to circumcision in the leading case of Brown and in the Law Commission’s recommendations on circumcision in its report Consent in the Criminal Law. By problematising the legal reasoning in these English legal texts we seek to contest legal orthodoxy which construes the decision to circumcise a male infant as a legitimate parental decision.”

M HIV infection and circumcision: cutting through the hyperbole. Van Howe RS. Journal of The Royal Society for the Promotion of Health. 2005;125(6):259–265.

“Based on the best estimates, mass circumcision would not be as cost-effective as other interventions that have been demonstrated to be effective. Even if effective, mass circumcision as a preventive measure for HIV in developed countries is difficult to justify.”

Publications 2003-2000:

L Doctor and Hospital Settle Circumcision Lawsuit: Stage Set for Men to Sue for Being Circumcised as Infants. Men’s Daily News. 2003 (Apr 9).

“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.”

See also: Man Sues for Loss of Foreskin –

as well as these under our Videos tab: Sues after Forced Circumcision and Circumcised-Sues and Wins

L Male and Female Genital Alteration: A Collision Course with the Law? Davis DS. Case Western Health Matrix: Journal of Law-Medicine. 2001;11(2):487–570.

“…the two practices lack a legally defensible distinction, given the current wording of state and federal statutes. Thus, a complete laissez-faire attitude toward one practice coupled with total criminalization of the other, runs afoul of the “free exercise” clause of the First Amendment. There are also troubling implications for the constitutional requirement of equal protection, because the laws appear to protect little girls, but not little boys, from religious and culturally motivated surgery.”

L/M The Limits of the Law: Comparative Analysis Legal and Extralegal Methods to Control Child Body Mutilation Practices. Svoboda JS. In: Denniston et al. Understanding Circumcision. 297–365. Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers, New York.

“Analytical tools provided by a range of disciplines including law, sociology, human rights, anthropology, and psychology are applied to explore how a broad variety of bizarre and extremely harmful practices on children are justified and rationalized into consistency with a culture’s asserted values.”

L/M Circumcision and the American Academy of Pediatrics: Should Scientific Misconduct Result in Trade Association Liability? Gianelli MR. Iowa Law Review. 85:1507–1568.

“In 1980, Edward Wallerstein, in Circumcision: An American Health Fallacy, pointed out, ‘Today circumcision is a solution in search of a problem.’ This statement unfortunately still rings true twenty years later. The AAP, through a failure to follow scientific protocol, should not perpetuate harm on baby boys and their parents, in order to cover up past harm.”

Publications 1999:

L, M, R   State Laws Criminalizing Female Circumcision: A Violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, 32 J. Marshall L. Rev. 353. Bond SL. UIC Law Review. 1999;32(2):353–380.

“State FGM laws violate the constitutional guarantee that similarly situated males and females be treated equally before the law. Notwithstanding a state government’s good intentions, and its legal prerogative to protect young girls from an injurious procedure, the state must extend the same legal protections to boys at risk for a similar procedure. Striking down unconstitutional FGM statutes and replacing them with gender neutral, generally applicable laws will protect all children from harm and further the state’s legitimate interest in protecting child welfare without discriminating on the basis of gender.”

E/L/M Circumcision in America in 1998: Attitudes, Beliefs, and Charges of American Physicians. Fletcher CR, MD. In: Denniston, G.C., Hodges, F.M., Milos, M.F. (eds) Male and Female Circumcision. 259–271. Springer, Boston, MA. DOI

“This study has shown that misunderstanding and misapplication of basic medical and legal information, confused by and coupled with insupportable parental authority arguments, and buttressed by solid financial reimbursement, has allowed the persistence of a procedure that cannot be scientifically supported. Because organised medicine has done little to end newborn male circumcision, and because physicians have tended to ignore medical and scientific arguments against it, legal and constitutional actions against those who routinely perform newborn male circumcision may ultimately be required to end this practice.”

G/L/M Do Parents Have the Legal Authority to Consent to the Surgical Amputation of Normal, Healthy Tissue From Their Infant Children?: The Practice of Circumcision in the United States. Povenmire R. Journal of Gender Social Policy & the Law. 1998-1999;7(1):87–123. Available:

“The federal government and the states could enact legislation to prohibit routine male circumcision while leaving parental discretion in other areas intact. For example, child abuse laws in many states do not prohibit spanking, corporal punishment or discipline, but do prohibit permanent physical injury to children. A better approach, however is to amend the Anti-FGM act to include protection against circumcision. The authority of Congress to enact such a law under the commerce clause is not in serious doubt, and is predicated on the exact same arguments propounded in innumerable legal commentaries dealing with FGM.”

C/G/L/M Some Thoughts on Legal Remedies. Llewellyn D. In Male and Female Circumcision, edited by Denniston et al. 1999:471–483. Kluwer AcademicI Plenum Publishers, New York.

“By pleading causes of action with which everyone can agree, by not attacking all circumcisions, and by educating the jury with both facts and emotion, the skilful trial lawyer can obtain favourable results for his clients. Favourable results for his clients, however, have the added benefit of putting monetary pressure on the medical and insurance industries to reconsider their dedication to this harmful, disfiguring, and unnecessary surgery. When enough suits have been brought and successfully concluded, the economic disadvantages of circumcision will outweigh the perceived economic advantages and the practice will be abandoned.”

C/E/G/M State Laws Criminalizing Female Circumcision: A Violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Bond SL. The John Marshall Law Review. 1999;353–380.

“Striking down unconstitutional FGM statutes and replacing them with gender neutral, generally applicable laws will protect all children from harm and further the state’s legitimate interest in protecting child welfare without discriminating on the basis of gender.”

A/C/M/R A preliminary poll of men circumcised in infancy or childhood. Hammond T. BJU International. 1999; 83(Suppl. 1): 85–92.

“[This] poll is the first to systematically document adverse outcomes of childhood circumcision on men’s health and well-being. Its findings reveal wide-ranging physical, sexual and psychological consequences. Respondents probably represent a vanguard among circumcised males and their testimonies further challenge the appropriateness of non-therapeutic childhood circumcisions.”

Publications 1998:

M Immunological functions of the human prepuce. Fleiss PM, Hodges FM, Van Howe RS. Sexually Transmitted Infections. 1998;74:364–367.

“The actual effect of circumcision is the destruction of the clinically demonstrated hygienic and immunological properties of the prepuce and intact penis.”

Publications 1997:

M Variability in penile appearance and penile findings: a prospective study. Van Howe RS. British Journal of Urology. 1997;80:776–782. Available:

“There are significant variations of appearance in circumcised boys; clinical findings are much more common in these boys than previously reported in retrospective studies. The circumcised penis requires more care than the intact penis during the first 3 years of life.”

A/C/M/R Long-term Consequences of Neonatal Circumcision: A Preliminary Poll of Circumcised Males. Hammond T. In Sexual Mutilations: A Human Tragedy, edited by Denniston and Milos. 1997:125–129. Plenum Press, New York.

“Many circumcised men fail to seek professional assistance because of their well-founded mistrust of the medical profession … Others are reluctant to verbalize their feelings for fear of ridicule. Some non-intact men who have sought psychological counselling have been subjected to ridicule or misunderstanding from mental health workers. Until recently, men who understood that they had been psychologically and sexually damaged by circumcision suffered in silence.”

Publications 1996:

A/E/L/M Routine Neonatal Circumcision: Symbol of the Birth of the Therapeutic State. Szasz T. Journal of Medicine and Philosophy. 21:137–148. DOI: 10.1093/JMP/21.2.137

“Why is RNC legal? Because it is defined as preventive medicine. Why is it defined as preventive medicine? To avoid having to ban it as male genital mutilation. This reciprocal relationship between language and law is intrinsic to our concept of legality.”

Publications 1992:

E/L/M Extract from a Letter from Dr. Margaret Somerville (Director, McGill University Centre for Medicine, Ethics and Law) to the Minister of Justice of Canada. June 10, 1992.

“There are also some forms of female circumcision, which would be no more harmful than male circumcision and, possibly, less harmful. However, I strongly support the position that these, together with all forms of female circumcision, should be prohibited. But in this case, it makes it even more difficult to determine why we would continue to regard male circumcision as legal and allow it.”

Publications 1989:

L Circumcision: The Legal and Constitutional Issues. Bonner CA, Kinane MJ. Truth Seeker. 1989(Jul-Aug):S1–S4.

“Suits for damages against surgeons, hospitals, and conceivably parents, are possible because malice in the sense of ill-will or a desire to cause injury is not essential to sustain a recovery for intentional wrongdoing. It is enough for the plaintiff to show that the defendant knowingly and intentionally did the act which caused the damage and that damage was substantially certain to follow.”

Publications 1985:

A/C/L/M The First Circumcision Lawsuit (1985). Morris RW. Presented at The First International Symposium on Circumcision, Anaheim, California, March 1-2, 1989.

“The first case to challenge circumcision anywhere, the United States or any other country, was the (1985) Adam London case. The challenge was decided first in the Superior Court of California, Marin County, then heard by the Court of Appeal. A petition to have the California Supreme Court review the rulings of the lower courts was summarily rejected by the Supreme Court. This is the story of the issues and the happenings.”

A/C/L/M The First Circumcision Case (1985). Morris RW. In Truth Seeker (July/August 1989);47–50.

“This was strictly an issue of law since the physician’s own form stated that circumcision had no medical purpose, all we had to argue about was whether or not a parent can consent to surgical procedures which had no medical purpose.”

Historical documents relevant to the Adam London case are linked below:

1984 Complaint: London v. Glasser

1985 Petition for Writ-Introduction

1985 Appellant’s Opening Brief

1985 Hospital Sued in Circumcision. San Francisco Chronicle (May 15)

1985 Marin Judge Kills Suit Over Circumcision. San Francisco Chronicle (June 11)

Publications 1984:

A/C/L/M Circumcision as Child Abuse. Brigman W. Journal of Family Law: University of Louisville School of Law. 1984;23(3):337–357.

“[T]he same cultural astigmatism which prevented past generations from perceiving their actions as child abuse prevents contemporary Americans from perceiving or acknowledging the most widespread form of child abuse in society today: child mutilation through routine neonatal circumcision of males.”

* * * * * * * * * *

See also:

Published papers authored/co-authored by Attorneys for the Rights of the Child Executive Director J. Steven Svoboda

Primer on Genital Cutting Customs (Circumcision), Bodily Integrity and Children’s Genital Autonomy

Some books may be out of print or not available at reasonable pricing. They can be obtained from GALDEF in PDF format for a minimum $30 donation. Please contact:

Circumcision is a Fraud and the Coming Legal Reckoning.
Peter W. Adler, MA, JD (2022) Flagship Publishing.

The Final Cut: The truth about circumcision.
Jonathan Meddings (2022).

Celebrating Brit Shalom.
Rebecca Wald and Lisa Braver-Moss (2015) Notim Press.

Unspeakable Mutilations: Circumcised Men Speak Out.
Lindsay R. Watson (2014) Create Space Publishing.

His Body, His Choice: Pitching Infant Male Circumcision to Health and Human Rights Gatekeepers
[Chapter 6 in “Lost” Causes: Agenda Vetting in Global Issue Networks and Shaping of Human Security]
Charlie Carpenter (2014) Cornell University Press.

Marked in Your Flesh: Circumcision from Ancient Judea to Modern America.
Leonard Glick (2005) Oxford University Press.

Circumcision: A History of the World’s Most Controversial Surgery.
David Gollaher (2000) Basic Books.

Questioning Circumcision: A Jewish Perspective.
Ron Goldman (1998) Vanguard Publications.

Circumcision: The Hidden Trauma. How an American Cultural Practice Affects Infants and Ultimately Us All.
Ron Goldman (1997) Vanguard Publications.

The Joy of Uncircumcising! Exploring Circumcision: History, Myths, Psychology, Restoration, Sexual Pleasure and Human Rights.
Jim Bigelow, PhD (1992-1998 eds.) Hourglass Book Publishing.

“The supreme irony about concerns over ‘child protection’ is that many online videos about circumcision (e.g. YouTube) are age-restricted and unavailable to children under the age of 18 wishing to voluntarily educate themselves on the subject. Yet, the medically unnecessary and inherently harmful practice of circumcision itself is not age-restricted and is imposed upon children without their consent.”    
Tim Hammond – Founder of GALDEF

See also the GALDEF YouTube channel for recent updates and additions.


Forced Foreskin Retraction: A Medico-Legal Scandal
John Geisheker, JD, Executive Director of Doctors Opposing Circumcision, discusses what forced foreskin retraction is, why it’s so harmful, why it’s so common among medical practitioners in the U.S., and what parents and attorneys can do about it.


A Current Perspective of Infant MGM Litigation & Regulatory Body Complaints from 1985 to 2021
GALDEF executive board member Andrew Little discusses the history of circumcision-related litigation cases in North America.

Common Circumcision Injuries and their Causes
Attorney David Llewellyn, “the circumcision lawyer”, reviews the little-discussed and ignored injuries common to non-therapeutic newborn and childhood circumcision.


The effect of childhood penile circumcision on trans women
Lilith Kannum, a transgender female Pakistani refugee living in Germany, describes how trans women are harmed and disadvantaged by penile circumcision (German with English captions).


Science Proves There are More than Two Human Sexes
We’re taught to believe that sex is binary, male or female. This view is incorrect. Host Hank Green explains how science proves that biological sex is a spectrum.


One Green Bottle, male circumcision and the law (Healthcare and Secularism Part 4)
To what extent should “religious freedom” be accommodated in healthcare and how can we ensure that patient care is always prioritised over religious concerns?

Gamma Bias: Cognitive Distortion in Thinking About Gender
Biases are explored in cases when females are harmed their gender is highlighted and when males are harmed their gender is minimized. This bias, in part, explains the lack of equal legal protection of children from genital cutting customs, regardless of sex/gender.


Attorneys for the Rights of the Child exposes the American Academy of Pediatrics misleading information about the foreskin and circumcision in 2013 at the Twentieth Pitts Lectureship in Medical Ethics (Charleston, SC).  Background      Complete Playlist (6 videos)

·     The AAP Doesn’t Know the Functions of the Foreskin

·     Biases in the Making of the AAP’s Circumcision Policy Revealed

·     Complications of Circumcision Understated by the AAP 

·     Sexual Function Loss Ignored by the AAP 

·     The AAP Confuses HIV Statistics to push Circumcision 

·     AAP’s Perspective of UTI Risk Overblown


Circumcision-Know Your Rights
Attorney David Llewellyn discusses: Who may bring a circumcision-related lawsuit? What is “informed consent” Who may be responsible for damages? What are the time limits? What sort of damages may be awarded?


The Right To Bodily Integrity
Attorney J. Steven Svoboda discusses the 2012 German court case regarding circumcision that upheld a child’s human and legal rights to bodily integrity. The ensuing arguments claiming that the decision violated religious rights evidence a misplaced understanding of the proper scope of options available based on a parent’s religion with respect to procedures that may infringe on a child’s rights. Chronic issues are evident in the frequent slippage in the public debate between religious and secular, between male genital cutting and female genital cutting, between ancient history and current medical knowledge and norms, and in the dialectic between an appropriately foregrounded child and other frequently foregrounded entities, such as parents and society.


Constitutional Rights of a 1 Day Old Baby Boy
Attorney Zenas Baer discusses the events that led him to studying the legal issues around circumcision of children and representing clients harmed by forced circumcision.


Difference Between: Male and Female Circumcision and   Strawman Fallacy: FGM vs. MGM
This video, under two different titles, explains how the current gender-based legal distinction drawn between male and female circumcision is unsustainable and why a more equitable legal approach should be based on the degree of harm.

Children and Human Rights
Paul Mason, Family and Children’s Lawyer and former Commissioner for Children (Tasmania) discusses children’s rights to bodily integrity.

Medical Organization Policies and Statements

(Doctors Opposing Circumcision website)

Medical and Ethical Positions on Circumcision

(Attorneys for the Rights of the Child website)

Legal Victories

(Attorneys for the Rights of the Child website)

Verdicts and Settlements

(The Circumcision Lawyer website)

Countries with Laws or Regulations that Restrict Male Circumcision

( Attorneys for the Rights of the Child website)

A couple of states have laws prohibiting ritual abuse of children that make specific exemptions for male circumcision. The very need to insert such exemptions only makes it more obvious that excising the normal prepuce (foreskin) from an otherwise healthy male child does indeed constitute ritualized abuse.


Ritualized abuse of a child [SB0719; 2015]
Sec. 12-33. Exemption for male circumcision is at (b)(2)


Ritualized abuse of a child [Sec. 18-1506A; 1990]
Exemption for male circumcision is at (2)(b)

In recent years a growing number of states have either proposed or passed laws affecting transgender youth and their ability to exercise their bodily autonomy to seek gender-affirming care under the guidance of physicians, psychologists, and often in consultation with their parents. Many of these laws have been given titles opposing “child genital mutilation”.

Many such laws define “child genital mutilation” in terms that specifically exempt newborn male circumcision. The hypocrisy of these laws is glaring and such exemptions only make it more obvious that excising the normal prepuce (foreskin) from an otherwise healthy male child does indeed constitute genital mutilation.

As of September 2023 here a few examples of states with such exemptions:


Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act [SB184; 2022]


Regulate Experimental Adolescent Procedures (REAP) Act [HB1125SG; 2023]

New Jersey

Child Protection and Anti-Mutilation Act [S3076; 2022]


Genital Mutilation [SB249; 2022] – no action since 11/28/2022

It is noteworthy that this bill appears to be based upon the text of a previous code prohibiting Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) which has been marked up to specifically strike the word “female” and inserts language prohibiting FGM but also new language prohibiting various types of transgender-affirming surgeries, while specifically exempting male circumcision and intersex surgeries.