N E W Y O R K, March 12, 2001 -- Given the choice, William Stowell says he would have kept his foreskin.
Since the choice was made for him, he is 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 tip 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 it was a mistake.
Stowell's attorney, David Llwellyn, has considerable experience with men who lament the loss of their foreskins. He has filed similar lawsuits in the past, winning as much as $65,000 in one settlement.
In Stowell's case, Lwellyn will argue that the plaintiff's mother was under the influence of post-Caesarian painkillers when she agreed to the10-minute surgical procedure at Good Samaritan Hospital in West Islip, N.Y.
Study Favors Foreskins
Sixty percent of American men in the U.S. have been circumcised.
Stowell bases his claims to missing out on sexual pleasure in part on studies that suggest men with their foreskins intact enjoy sex more than their circumcised peers. Stowell says that he knows that 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 researcher Kristen O' Hare, concludes "the anatomically complete penis offers a more rewarding experience for the female partner during coitus."
However, O'Hare acknowledges the study's shortcomings: Respondents were not selected randomly and several were recruited using a newsletter put out by an anti-circumcision organization.
Routine Procedure Questioned
In 1999, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued new recommendations on circumcisions as routine procedures for newborn males. After nearly 40 years of analysis, researchers found that the benefits of circumcision were not significant enough to warrant the AAP to recommend routine newborn circumcision.
Dr. Carole Lannon, 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.
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 in a 1989 interview with Redbook magazine.
"My own preference," Spock said when asked about infant circumcision, "if I had the good fortune to have another son, would be to leave his little penis alone."
Circumcision In the Courts
Stowell's suit is the 21st case Llewellyn has filed involving circumcision. About half were similar, with adult men claiming the circumcision was done without proper consent.
One notorious case involved an adult who went in for surgery to have his bent penis straightened and awoke to find his foreskin gone as well. Others involve surgeries that were botched one way or another.
Stowell's case was filed in December; the hospital responded with a motion to dismiss. In it's motion, 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.
Settlement of the suit could take some time. Briefs are due by the end of March, but the judge can take as long as he wants to decide what to do.