Thursday, 16 May 2013

AIC Launches First-of-Its-Kind Lawsuit, Sues for Irreparable Harm Resulting from Surgery

On May 14th, 2013, Advocates for Informed Choice, The Southern Poverty Law Center, and pro bono counsel for the private law firms of Janet, Jenner & Suggs and Steptoe & Johnson LLP filed a lawsuit today against South Carolina Department of Social Services (SCDSS), Greenville Hospital System, Medical University of South Carolina and individual employees for performing an irreversible and medically unnecessary surgery on an infant who was in the state’s care at the time of the surgery.
The lawsuit, filed in both state and federal court, charges that it was a violation of the U.S. Constitution when South Carolina doctors working for the state surgically removed the healthy genital tissue of a 16-month-old child, potentially sterilizing him and greatly reducing, if not eliminating, his sexual function.

M.C. was born with an intersex condition – a reproductive or sexual anatomy that does not fit typical definitions of male or female. Doctors referred to M.C. as a “true hermaphrodite.” The child was in the care of the South Carolina Department of Social Services when doctors, in cooperation with social services employees, decided to perform this medically unnecessary surgery. Children with M.C.’s intersex condition have bodies that are not easily labeled as either male or female.
Typically, children with these conditions develop as a boy or girl as they grow. Despite not knowing whether M.C. would grow up to be a man or woman, or whether he would elect to have any surgery at all, the defendants performed sex-assignment surgery on a 16-month-old child, removing his healthy phallus in an attempt to make M.C. a girl. M.C. has shown signs of developing a male gender and now, at age 8, has clearly identified himself as a boy.

The lawsuit is the first of its kind in the United States. Since the 1950s, doctors have performed this type of non-consensual sex assignment surgery on infants with intersex conditions. Hundreds of affected adults have come forward to challenge these procedures as abusive and unnecessary. To them, each surgery represents a future of pain, shame and damaged or lost sexual function. M.C., then but a baby, is now included among them. We hope that with the historic launching of this lawsuit, he will be the last. Read the full press release.

Source: Anne Tamar-Mattis, Founding Executive Director of Advocates for Informed Choice