October 21, 2013
David E. Landers, MD
Holy Name Hospital
Teaneck, New Jersey
Dear David E. Landers:
I was born a healthy baby boy on Christmas Day 1974 in Holy Name
Hospital. I weighed 5 lbs.,15 oz. You were the doctor who delivered me.
Without my consent and without my parents' informed consent, you performed a 19th century surgical operation on me that has no medical indication and is injurious to infants and children. This surgery is euphemistically referred to by the U.S. medical
profession as Routine Infant Circumcision.
Since you never bothered to see me again, I want to make you aware of the harm you caused me:
• Amputation of over 50% of my foreskin and loss of its integral functions, namely:
• Protection of the glans penis, an internal organ.
• Coverage of the shaft of the elongated, erect penis.
• Provision of most of the nerves for sexual response (the ridged bands on the
inner lining of the foreskin).
• Amputation of my frenulum.
• Scar on my penis.
• Meatal Stenosis – The exposure of my unprotected glans penis to the ammonia in
urine soaked diapers may have been the cause. However, ischemia of the glans
penis, caused by your possible severing of the frenular artery at circumcision, may
be the etiologic factor. A surgical meatotomy, to open the urethra, was performed
on me at age 5 to correct this circumcision complication. Recovery from this
corrective surgery was painful and traumatic and left me with a urination problem
(spraying) and a scar on the tip of my penis. The memory of this surgery and my
painful recovery still haunts me.
• Loss of sexual sensitivity - 15+/- cell layer increase in thickness of surface of glans
penis due to keratinization.
• Progressive loss of glans sensitivity.
• Curving of my penis during erection, due to removal of too much foreskin.
• Pubic hair on my penile shaft during erection, due to removal of too much foreskin.
• Removal of too much skin for a comfortable erection.
• Reduced size of my penis.
Psychologically, this harmful surgery caused me to have low body image throughout adolescence and early adulthood and to completely avoid relationships with women during that time period. I thank God I overcame these challenges, and in my 30s met and married a wonderful and supportive woman.
We now know that newborns feel pain even more acutely than adults do, and that many of the infants who stop crying during circumcision are actually in a state of traumatic shock. The procedure has significant complication rates of infection, hemorrhage and even death. Infant circumcision surgeries are all over the Internet. They are horrifying! How could you do this to the helpless newborn that I was?
Non-therapeutic infant male circumcision violates the rules of medical ethics and numerous provisions of law. Physicians who circumcise non-consenting infants and children should lose their licenses to practice medicine.
Unnecessary surgery on children is a serious ethical violation. With respect to ethics, you, David E. Landers, violated all seven Principles of the AMA Code of Ethics; violated a primary tenet of health care, First, Do No Harm; and violated the Golden Rule.
With respect to human rights, you, David E. Landers, violated my basic human right, the right to an intact body. You had no right to remove a healthy, normal part of my body without my express consent. You failed to obtain my informed consent. You violated the Nuremberg Code of Ethics, which regulates experimentation on humans.
Furthermore, you violated my family's religious beliefs. I am a practical Catholic, as are my parents. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church infant circumcision is nontherapeutic amputation and mutilation and therefore against the moral law. Catholics are required to respect bodily integrity. Lack of respect for bodily integrity is viewed as a violation of the Fifth Commandment, Thou shalt not kill.
I survived infant circumcision, but you, David E. Landers, had no right to cut me. In any context but the privileged space of “medical procedure”, what you did constitutes child sexual assault.
Craig B. Adams
Jeffrey Leon Cowsert, R/A
September 2, 2012
Dear Dr. Cserny:
I don’t know if you recall but you were my delivery doctor on July 4, 1971. Through the years we have bumped into one another and certainly have many ties through relatives and friends. While I don’t feel like I know you on a personal level, I have a very personal topic I would like to chat about with you. Following my birth, you agreed to or possibly promoted and performed a circumcision on me, amputating the foreskin from my genitals. While the results may very well match the expectations shown in a text book, I never wanted it to be done to me and insist my rights as a human being were severely violated. I also live with a moderate case of erectile dysfunction as a result of the parts
missing and function lost.
I have been spending great efforts to educate the public and medical community of the misinformation that is being published, the dangers to infants that are forced to endure the procedure, the loss that men battle as a result of it, the fact that infants and children have rights and should be allowed to make the choice for themselves. All the while, I have been dealing with my own anger over the psychological and physical damage it has caused me. I have discussed this with my mother, she regrets doing it to me and supports my stance that it is not right to force it on a baby or child. It should be left to the child to decide when he is of the age to consent.
It is very tempting for me to include you in my feelings of anger and throw you into the pool of those who promote RIC. But, I don’t think it is fair for me to do this without ever discussing my feelings and beliefs with you – and leave you with a chance to explain why you did it, what you were taught about it, your knowledge of the history behind it and how you feel about several thousand intactivists trying to stop it. I could probably inform and teach you many things about it that you may have never known but it would be too much to include in a letter. I planned to call you but couldn’t find a phone listing.
Nothing would make me happier than to have you as an ally in the cause to end what I consider a crime. I realize you may not agree, but your opinion would be greatly valued. I do hope to hear back from you - phone, email or US postal are equally fine communication.
Jeffrey L. Cowsert
Also be sure to check out: An Open Letter to Mohel Michael Henesch