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AAP sued over botched circumcision

Published: February 15, 2021

Updated: October 2, 2023

The intactivist movement has a dismal record in recent litigation. Let’s review.

Nebus v Hironimus

In January 2012 Heather Hironimus filed a parenting agreement authorizing the father to circumcise their young son. Later the Florida mother changed her mind, and a legal battle ensued. When Hironimus lost, she tried to prevent the procedure by fleeing with her son, in contempt of court and in violation of a custody agreement. After hiding for nearly three months, Hironimus was arrested in May 2015, whereupon she lost custody of her son. Within six months he was circumcised. [1]

Clopper v Harvard University

In May 2018 Eric Clopper gave a one-man performance against circumcision in Harvard’s Sanders Theatre, during which he stripped nude and engaged in an anti-Semitic rant. After an investigation Harvard fired him from his job as a systems administrator. Clopper sued the university for libel, defamation, and various civil rights and employment violations. He also sued the Harvard Crimson newspaper based on its reporting on the story. Both federal lawsuits were dismissed in December 2020. [2] Clopper appealed the ruling, and in August 2022 a federal appeals court affirmed the lower court's ruling. [3] Clopper then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which declined to hear the case in October 2023. [4]

Adkison v United States

John Adkison was born and presumably circumcised on a U.S. naval base in 1970. In May 2019 the IT specialist sued the federal government over his circumcision. He anticipated using the expected $1 million judgment to fuel his anti-circumcision obsession. [5] Instead the lawsuit was dismissed one year later - shortly before his 50th birthday - because the court lacked jurisdiction, and because the statute of limitations had long since expired. [6]

Lavine v American Academy of Pediatrics

The latest circumcision related lawsuit was filed two weeks ago by attorney and intactivist Andrew DeLaney on behalf of a 23 year-old man and his parents. [7] Plaintiff Shingo Lavine was born and circumcised in December 1997 at Princeton Medical Center (PMC) in New Jersey. According to the complaint, Dr. Jeffrey Chait removed too much shaft skin during the procedure, and a second circumcision at a different facility failed to correct the problem. As a result Lavine has suffered phimosis, buried penis, meatal stenosis, tight and painful erections, hypersensitive glans, and severe emotional distress.

In addition to PMC the lawsuit names the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) as a defendant. Several clues indicate that the longtime intactivist scapegoat is actually DeLaney’s primary target. The counts against the AAP are almost twice as verbose as those against PMC. A blog post announcing the lawsuit is titled “American Academy of Pediatrics lawsuit,” and a hyperlink to the complaint is titled “Lavine vs AAP”.

The 23-page petition [8] contains numerous claims that appear to be

  • false - For example, the complaint claims that the AAP position is contrary to those of most developed nations.

  • irrelevant - The complaint contains a generalization about physician training, rather than about Dr. Chait’s level of training.

  • argumentum ad hominem - The complaint alleges that AAP leaders have religious and cultural bias, implying that they cannot analyze evidence objectively.

  • poisoning the well - The complaint quotes a poem for circumcised men written by the AAP task force chairman.

  • not actionable - The complaint faults the AAP for not stating that parents might later regret their decision.

The complaint is full of legal opinions not supported by case law (e.g. that circumcision is “a crime,” specifically “statutory criminal child abuse in every state”); and ethical opinions falsely labeled as facts (e.g. that circumcision violates medical ethics and the AAP is lying to imply otherwise.) There are fanciful and unsupported accusations about the AAP’s mission, motives, and knowledge. Popular intactofacts that have been refuted on this blog are presented as actual facts. Rather than focus on the hospital's culpability for the botched circumcision, it seems as if DeLaney is using his client’s misery and legitimate grievance as an opportunity to amplify intactivist propaganda.

While the complaint seems to offer no viable case against the AAP, Lavine might have a malpractice case against PMC - if his attorney had focused the complaint around malpractice. Yet even if that were the case, the plaintiffs would have run into the statute of limitations. In New Jersey “a medical malpractice claim [for a minor] must be brought within two years of the injured child’s 18th birthday, [9][10] The complaint was filed more than three years after the statute of limitations expired.

Lavine is not suing for medical malpractice, however, but for fraud. The New Jersey statute of limitations for fraud is much shorter - just six years. The period begins "on the date of the act or omission that gives rise to the fraud claim, or the date on which the act or omission reasonably should have been discovered." [11] That date passed almost two decades ago, so unfortunately Lavine may be unable to collect anything for his injury.


[1] “Intact America Part 5: A wild goose chase backfires”; Circumcision Choice; October 11, 2018

[3] Brandon L. Kingdollar; "Federal Appeals Court Rejects Libel Lawsuit Against Harvard, The Crimson"; Harvard Crimson; August 11, 2022

[4] Andrew Gross; "Supreme Court rejects Clopper v Harvard appeal"; Circumcision Choice; October 2, 2023 Clopper

[5] John Adkison; “Filed suit against USA for ‘circumcision’”; John Adkison blog; June 24, 2019

[6] John Adkison; “Suit against USA federal government dismissed”; John Adkison blog; April 4, 2020

[7] "American Academy of Pediatrics lawsuit”; Circumcision is a Fraud; February 5, 2021

[8] Complaint, Lavine v PMC, S.C.N.J. 2021 (No. MER-L-000272-21).

[9] Eichen Crutchlow Zaslow, LLP; “New Jersey Medical Malpractice Lawyers Review Statute of Limitations for New Jersey Medical Malpractice Lawsuits”; Eichen Crutchlow Zaslow, LLP; January 7, 2014

[10] For a birth injury as the result of medical malpractice, a medical malpractice lawsuit must be filed by the child’s 13th birthday. However that deadline would only apply to an injury that occurred during the actual birthing process.

[11] Glenn Reiser; “What is the Statute of Limitations for Breach of Contract and Fraud in New Jersey?”; Lofaro & Reiser; June 18, 2013


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