Florida judge: ‘Boy must be circumcised’

Florida judge: ‘Boy must be circumcised’

Earlier this month, an appeals court upheld a ruling allowing the father of a 4-year-old boy to circumcise his son against the wishes of his mother.

And in a bizarre twist, the judge slapped a gagging order on the boy’s mum. This not only forbids her from talking about the issue to the media, but from telling her son that she opposed his circumcision.

According to this report, Dennis Nebus and Heather Hironimus went to court last year to fight over whether their son Chase, then aged three, should should be ritually mutilated according to Jewish custom.

Hironimus had originally agreed to the circumcision, but later changed her mind, arguing that there was no medical reason for chase to be circumcised and that the procedure could harm or even kill him.

But Judge Jeffrey Dana Gillen, who sits in the 15th judicial district in Palm Beach County, ruled in Nebus’ favor, allowing him to go ahead and circumcise Chase, and he then added the gagging order.

According to Beyond the Bris, a Jewish website dedicated to educating the public on the risks of circumcision, the judge not only placed a gag order on her but ordered Hironimus to be separated from Chase for several weeks after the procedure.

The picture above is from the Facebook community "Chase's Guardians," which has more than 3000 "Likes" and is trying to raise funds for a possible appeal to the Florida Supreme Court.

The picture above is from the Facebook community “Chase’s Guardians,” which has almost 4,000 “Likes” and aims to raise funds for a possible appeal to the Florida Supreme Court.

The New Times, which broke the story last year, spoke to David Llewellyn, an Atlanta-based trial attorney and civil mediator who specialises in medical malpractice, particularly in the areas of genital injury, circumcision damage, and wrongful circumcision. He said:

In my opinion, there is never a reason to circumcise. There are good legal principles regarding this, but those principles are often disregarded because it’s such an emotional topic.

Commenting yesterday on the case in the Jewish Independent, Yori Yanover wrote:

I think it’s clear from the names of the main characters in this story (other than the judge) that these are not Jews arguing over the biblical commandment of circumcision. In fact … Chase’s father and mother were never married. In other words, Nebus is what’s known in some parts as the baby daddy. Why should he have the power to dictate the medical future of a child that isn’t officially under his care?

In his order, Judge Gillen notes that the mother, Ms Hironimus, signed a parenting plan of circumcision in December 2011, as did Mr Nebus. The plan was that Nebus arrange the circumcision. It’s part of the court records.

And that’s the basis for the Judge’s decision, forcing a woman to submit her son to a brutal violation of his person, against her best judgement: you signed the contract, you can’t change your mind about it.

Can you imagine someone contracting to donate, say, a kidney, then changing their mind only to be forced by a judge like this one to lie down and give up the body part?

Honestly, it’s hard to imagine a more invasive intrusion on the part of a court in people’s privacy.

He added:

After signing the agreement, back in 2011, Heather Hironimus changed her mind about the circumcision. She told her baby daddy that it was not medically necessary and that it could be a risky operation for the infant, because of the general anesthesia.

And she was right.

Don’t get me wrong, as a Jewish person, I support with every fiber in my body the requirement, even the need for Jewish parents to circumcise their sons. But over the years, I’ve read tons of evidence proving both sides of the circumcision debate, and I have had no use for them. The only valid reason I see for the brutal attack with a sharp knife on a defenseless infant is if God said so.

Otherwise, I completely agree with the voices out there suggesting circumcision is an aggressive violation of an infant’s civil liberties.

He pointed out that Heather Hironimus was on GoFundMe, where she’d already picked up just under the $10,000 she needed for her legal fees, and said:

Go help, if you’re into it. And ask yourself if we, as Jews, shouldn’t be committed to supporting people who were not told by God to circumcise their sons, just by this judge in Palm Beach, Florida.

This morning, I tried to find the GoFundMe appeal, but it had been removed because it reportedly violated the court order. However it has been replaced by a new funding campaign that aims to raise $25,000 on Hironimus’s behalf.

23 responses to “Florida judge: ‘Boy must be circumcised’”

  1. John says:

    That is incredibly tragic. Male genital mutilation shouldn’t be treated any differently to female genital mutilation – those performing such acts should be prosecuted to the fullest possible extent.

  2. Peter English says:

    The UK classes circumcision as controversial and requires consent from all parnts:

  3. Broga says:

    Only the internet enables a challenge to be made to the dictates of religion. That judge is a disgrace. Do judges have to be qualified in the USA or are they voted in like sheriffs.

    We are moving to a critical point where non religious opinions outweigh the religious. The façade that religion is still overwhelming is sustained by noisy preachers and a media that treats its entire audience as Christian (or at lease religious.) The BBC being a shameful example.

    The man isn’t married to the boy’s mother and seems not to be caring for the boy. That judge should be sacked. I wonder what the judges religious belief is?

  4. Trevor Blake says:

    May Mr. Nebus know the peace that Aaron had regarding Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu. See Leviticus 10:1-3 for the Lord’s love of a father who… burns his children alive.

    This is the religion being enforced by law. This is why debate and reason are fine tools for atheism, but spitting contempt for Judaism, Christianity and Islam (among the rest) is just as fine.

  5. David Anderson says:

    If the boy is circumcised wouldn’t it be a great scenario that in the future he sues the state and wins a fuckton of money for the enforced violation of his body.

    I know, I know, probably will not happen. After all the USA is a place where a person can turn his car into a wrong driveway, get shot through the head and the shooter is charged with a misdemeanour.

  6. Stephen Mynett says:

    I expect this judge would throw a fit if a Shariah punishment was used in his state, yet he is happy to allow a child to be abused/damaged in the name of another religion.

  7. L.Long says:

    Other than his wanting to see his kid mutilated there is no reason for this.
    He aint jew, or muslin and if xtian it aint required. So he is just being psychotic.

  8. Rob Andrews says:

    @Broga: RE: Judges

    In most states, Lower court judges are elected. There are no qualifications. Superior and higher judges are appointed from the lower.

    I wonder if it were explained to the 4-year-old EXACTLY what they wanted to do to his body, what he would have to say about it. A child that age will understand this if explained right. That’s exactly what the mother should do. No reason why a kid shouldn’t be invokved in this non-medical procedure. I hope he sues the father when he turns 18.

  9. Brummie says:

    There have been no prosecutions yet for FGM. France has prosecuted over a hundred for this appalling crime. The instances must be similar.
    The crime should be GM, not just FGM. Male genital mutilation has no medical justification either. The UK needs to wake up to this child abuse and take a strong stance.

  10. barriejohn says:

    The only valid reason I see for the brutal attack with a sharp knife on a defenseless infant is if God said so. (Yori Yanover)

    Is he insane?

    And news in this afternoon:

  11. Broga says:

    @Rob Andrew: Thanks for that on judges. I know in the UK the QCs are selected by their barrister colleagues. No additional qualification there. My impression of barristers is that their knowledge of the law is impressive. I’ve met a few. One in my wife’s family whom I knew well.

  12. Vanity Unfair says:

    As in the UK so in the USA female genital mutilation is illegal but in neither is male genital mutilation forbidden: a cause for equality legislation, perhaps.
    I do not think, but cannot prove, that amputation has ever been a legally-imposed punishment in the USA (slaves, being property, had vanishingly few legal protections or rights.) so this is a very harsh judgment for a US court. The Bill of Rights does say:

    Amendment IV
    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

    Amendment VIII
    Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

    As this is not, technically, a punishment the eighth would, probably, fail but it could be argued that protecting a felon from cruel and unusual punishment means that an innocent party deserves even more protection from the court.

    The fourth might call for some creative argument, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons,…, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause…” The child is, perhaps, the only party in this case against whom no warrant could be served and one that would result in such a violent seizure must be out of the question.

    Is there no USA law akin to the Children Act 1985 c41 s1?
    1 Welfare of the child.
    (1)When a court determines any question with respect to—
    (a)the upbringing of a child; or
    (b)the administration of a child’s property or the application of any income arising from it,the child’s welfare shall be the court’s paramount consideration.

    I don’t like criticising judges (laws are another matter) but this one should do some serious thinking. There is no way that his decision will be the final one as long as the money holds out..

    Incidentally, Yori Yanover’s comment is as egregious an example of doublethink as I have seen in a long time. When something is as wrong as this it is wrong. No amount of special pleading paraphrased as, “We have always done it because JHVH commands it and we are JHVH’s chosen people so it must be right for us.” will make it right.

  13. Vanity Unfair says:

    I see I have been overtaken by barriejohn and Brummie while checking sources. I am in agreement with you.

  14. R Pilotte says:

    What is the useless flap of skin on the end of the penis called?

    Judge Jeffrey Dana Gillen

  15. AgentCormac says:

    OT, but I thought this was a rather encouraging insight into the plight of the RCC on its home turf. In Bologna, which for centuries was the second biggest city of the papal state, weddings in churches have, apparently, dropped by a whopping 75% in just a single decade. Long may it continue!

  16. Broga says:

    @AgentCormac: Most encouraging. No doubt the fault of gays and militant atheists. I see also that there is unrest about the tax privileges of the Vatican. Frankie needs to get on the PR trail again. Or perhaps they should just pray.

  17. AgentCormac says:


    Let’s hope they opt for the prayer route. Given it makes not a single ounce of difference.

  18. jay says:

    The thing that is REALLY freaky to me is the gag order. While court orders can be somewhat arbitrary, this one is beyond belief.

  19. Paul Cook says:

    The problem is the court has looked at a narrow point of law – the strict contractual terms agreed some time ago that the two parents agreed by contract ( but who the fu** does that? How sick is that?), would circumcise the boy (when he was a little older). It is that and only that, I presume, were the legal arguments. And as a result that the terms of contract can’t or shouldn’t be broken in this instance.
    This will have been the ‘evidence’ the judge and the appeals court would have made his decision, the terms of the contract. (All thought the appeals system might only have had arguments the judge erred in law, and he clearly didn’t). And he has sought to uphold what they agreed. He has no ability to go off on a tangent to other issues. But it ignores one very important balance that of public policy: the balance of ensuring when we contract we mean it and are held to contractual terms no matter how bad they may be, as when we contract in sound mind as equals the terms can’t be ‘undone’ or shouldn’t or ignored, and public policy demands this certainty, against the public policy of harming beyond repair a little boy for the sake of a Stone Age moronic myth that appears sacrosanct for illogical reasons against all rational thought science, medicine and knowledge. The paramount issue is not the wishes of the parents but the well being of the child. This is where they have all failed: to see the harm to and to protect this little boy, they have not balanced the ‘expert’ reports properly, (if they had any), because they ought by medicine and known science fall down on the side against circumcision, and not fail this little boy due to conditioning, religion from the Stone Age, or just for the religious sake of it, or the emotional “it’s what we do, my parents, my tribe, my religion”, it ought to be only for credible medical reasons, and never for religious and certainly not emotional reasons.

    They failed to protect this little boy.

  20. Paul Cook says:

    One further thing not argued is that the Jews state they have a contract with god and that requires the sacrifice of circumcision.
    No problem.
    Prove it.

  21. Newspaniard says:

    No judge should order this barbaric act. Is he Jew or Islamist? Donation sent, protesting against child abuse.

  22. Har Davids says:

    There’s a lot of behaviour in the Bible that is criminal in itself: killing uppity children and women, stoning the breakers of the Sabbath to name a few. Will people be allowed to practice these commands too, because they’re mentioned in some holy book?

    As for the requirment of circumcision, doesn’t their god know who’s a Jew and who isn’t? There are plenty of circumcised non-Jews, which might be confusing.

  23. This judge should be fired or somtehing. HE is clearly insane.