Another option for intersex to file medical malpractice is the Criminalization of Female Genital Mutilation Act – this act forbids any operation on removing the genitals of female children except due to health reasons regardless of the child’s religious or cultural beliefs (Haas 64). Genital reconstruction surgery can be considered as a genital mutilation and its necessity is based on cultural tradition.
Moreover, its procedure can cause physical and psychological effects that is similar to female circumcision. In addition, the said act does not allow parents to give any consent to allow doctors to perform such surgery even though it is said to be necessary to save the child from any mental complications since there were still no studies regarding if the said surgery really does protect the child’s mental health (Haas 65). Also, doctors were also not allowed to perform such surgery.
Most importantly, intersex falls to the definition of “female” in the said act for if it does not, the act will violate the right of equal protection, thus, people who have undergone genital reconstruction surgery can file assault cases under the Female Genital Mutilation Act. When it comes to the issue of a valid informed consent, many cases in the USA involve parents that are not fully informed about their children’s condition up to the fact that they are not aware that their children are intersex.
Unfortunately, medical doctors considered an intersex condition as an emergency case and in such cases, informed consents are not needed since the patient’s life is in immediate danger (Haas 63). In addition, since such condition is considered as an emergency, the parents does not have enough time to decided whether or not they should let their child undergo the surgery, so most parents would agree without asking more information about their child’s condition or any other options other than the surgery, but there are also cases where a surgery took place without even the parents’ consents.
The doctors also choose to hide the facts from the patients and their parents for they have the right not to disclose any information if it can worsen their conditions (Haas 63). Additionally, doctors claim that they do not give the parents the whole truth so prevent them from being devastated. Unlike in the USA, the Colombian government requires doctors to provide parents with all the needed information about their child’s condition and also giving them other options other than surgery (Haas 62).
The Colombian doctors also refer the parents to intersex organizations for them to have more knowledge about the situation. Internationally, there is an agreement called Nuremberg Code which is relevant to intersex treatments for this code forbids all countries in performing experimental medical treatments without informed consent (Haas 66). Since genital reconstruction surgery does not provide any study about its effectiveness, it is still considered as experimental.
In the earlier times, intersex children are treated as object of experiments in order to see if corrective surgery can be done – just like in the case of Cheryl Chase and David Reimer, who was born as Bruce and had lost his penis in a circumcision accident, the doctors recommended for a gender change, specifically Dr. John Money of John Hopkins Gender Identity Clinic when his parents when to him for consultation (Martin part 2).
Conclusion There are provisions in US law that support the intersex – giving them the right to sue doctors for malpractice and the hospital itself, there are also movements led by organizations such as ISNA that advocate for delaying genital reconstruction surgery, claiming that intersex individuals should be given time to develop and to decide whether to be a male or a female or to even undergo corrective surgery itself.
As a result, doctors are slowly hesitating to perform the said surgery (Richards sec. 10). They are now resolving to delaying corrective surgery in order to avoid future complications on the child and also some unpleasant publicity. Much has to be done to resolve the intricacies of this issue, with the ultimate goal of protecting the rights of intersex individuals.
Essenfeld, Bernice E. , Gontang, Carol R. and Moore, Randy. Biology. 2nd ed. USA: Addison- Wesley, 1996. It is a biology textbook where the Chapter 26 is focused on the Animal Kingdom and discussed a process of reproduction for organisms. The book defined that hermaphrodites are “individuals that has functional male and female reproductive systems”. This was used to introduce what other context the term “hermaphrodite” is used. Fallon Jr. , L. Fleming. "Hermaphroditism". Healthline. 2002. 27 April 2008.