Suing Over Circumcision
Man Says Lack Of Foreskin Hurts Sex Life
March 12 — Given the choice, William Stowell says he would have kept his foreskin. Since the choice was made for him, he's suing the hospital where he was born and circumcised for depriving him of "the pleasure of natural, normal sexual intercourse."
Stowell says his sex life would be much better if he had been allowed to keep his foreskin — the loose fold of skin that covers the glans of the penis. But his mother denied that to him when she signed a circumcision consent form in the maternity ward where she gave birth; she says now that was a mistake.
Stowell's attorney in the case, David Llewellyn, has some experience with men who miss their foreskins. In fact, he has filed similar lawsuits in the past, winning as much as $65,000 in one settlement.
A Mother's Mistake
In this case, Llewellyn will argue that Stowell's mother was under the influence of post-Caesarian painkillers when she agreed to the 10-minute surgical procedure at Good Samaritan Hospital in West Islip, N.Y.
Sixty percent of men in the U.S. have been circumcised. Stowell has focused on studies that favor foreskins and he says that he knows he and his partners would be enjoying sex more if he still had his.
A 1999 study published in the British Journal of Urology involved 139 women who offered answers about sex with men with and without foreskins. In the end, the results showed more than half the women who filled out the surveys felt that sex with uncircumcised men was more enjoyable because they experienced more pleasure and less discomfort.
The study, conducted by Kristen O' Hare [sic] concludes "the anatomically complete penis offers a more rewarding experience for the female partner during coitus." However, O'Hare even acknowledges the study's shortcomings: The respondents were not selected randomly and several were recruited using a newsletter put out by an anti-circumcision organization.
Stowell's is the 21st case Llewellyn has filed involving circumcision. About half were similar to this one with adults suing, claiming the surgery was done without proper consent.
Another case involved an adult who went in for surgery to have his bent penis straightened, and awoke to find his foreskin gone as well. The others involve surgeries that were botched one way or another.
Stowell's suit was filed in December and the hospital responded with a motion to dismiss. In it the hospital claims there is a 10-year statute of limitations on medical malpractice suits. However, Llewellyn responds that in the state of New York, the clock doesn't start ticking until a person turns 18.
The outcome of this case could take awhile. The briefs are due by the end of the month but the judge can take as long as he wants to decide what to do.
Two years ago, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued new recommendations on circumcisions as routine procedures. After nearly 40 years of analysis on the topic it found that the benefits were not significant enough to warrant the AAP to recommend routine newborn circumcision. Dr. Carole Lannon, the head of AAP's Task Force on Circumcision, encouraged parents to make an informed decision about what is in the best interest of their child.
In a 1989 interview with Redbook magazine, Dr. Benjamin Spock, author of Dr. Spock's Baby and Child Care and one of the world's most famous pediatricians, weighed in on the subject.
When asked about circumcision he said quite simply, "My own preference, if I had the good fortune to have another son, would be to leave his little penis alone."
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