Florida judge forces boy’s circumcision
In a ruling that has angered anti-circumcision activists, Judge Jeffrey Gillen ‘bullied’ a jailed woman – Heather Hironimus, above – into agreeing to have her four-year-old son, Chase, ritually mutilated.
According to this report, Jewish couple Hironimus and her husband Dennis Nebus had initially agreed to the circumcision in a parenting agreement filed in court, but the mother later changed her mind.
Circuit and appellate judges sided with the father, but potential surgeons backed out after failing to get the mother’s consent and becoming the target of protesters.
Hironimus went missing with the Chase, above, in February, ignoring warnings from Judge Gillen to be in court and allow the circumcision to proceed. She remained missing until she was arrested and was kept in jail for a week. She had been staying in a domestic violence shelter.
With her legal options dwindling, she filed a federal civil rights lawsuit on behalf of her son, looking for a solution outside state court. But her attorney abruptly withdrew from that case on Wednesday, two days after its first hearing, when a judge expressed open skepticism of its merits.
But on Friday her lengthy battle with her child’s father over the boy’s circumcision ended after she agreed to the procedure in exchange for her release from jail. She then broke down in tears.
Georganne Chapin, Executive Eirector of Intact America, which advocates against circumcision, said Hironimus had been “bullied” into signing, calling it:
The saddest commentary on the court. I don’t know what’s in his [the judge’s] head. I don’t know how he can sleep at night.
She remained jailed Friday afternoon and is due back in court Tuesday on a separate criminal charge of interfering with child custody. It is not clear how soon she will be released.
Attorneys for both Hironimus and the boy’s father declined to comment, citing an ongoing gag order in the case.
Upon arriving in court Friday, chained at the wrists and ankles and wearing a navy blue jail jumpsuit, Hironimus quietly invoked her fifth amendment rights when asked whether she had signed the consent agreement. Gillen said Hironimus would be jailed indefinitely unless she did.
It is reported here that Chase’s parents separated before their son was born. Their parenting contract placed responsibility on the father for scheduling and paying for his circumcision and required the mother to sign any required documents in a timely manner. Over time, the circumcision was forgotten, Chase remained intact, and his mother became passionate about protecting boys from circumcision.
The boy’s father raised the circumcision issue after his son was three years old, alleging medical problems. Pediatric urologist Dr. Charles W Flack examined the boy and said the boy was healthy and circumcision wasn’t medically necessary.
Her mother, Mary Hironimus, fought back tears after Friday’s hearing but said her daughter was right to fight for her son.
Of course it’s worth it, any mother would do anything for her child.
Gillen approved a motion by Nebus’ attorney, May Cain, to temporarily give the father sole decision-making over matters including his son’s health and to travel out of state, if needed, to have the circumcision performed. Cain said her client had been receiving death threats and warnings his son would be kidnapped.
The judge said:
I am fearful that the child might be abducted.
After Hironimus agreed to sign the form and court reconvened, Gillen offered advice to the parents:
You are both going to continue to be the parents to this young man. You’re going to have to learn how to deal with that in an amicable, friendly, civil manner. You’re going to have to always take into consideration what’s in your child’s best interest. To the extent that you may differ on things, you’re going to have to talk them out. That’s what parents do in a civilized society. You do not take the law into your own hands.
Though Chapin and other so-called “intactivists” remained dismayed by the developments, she said Gillen had inadvertently advanced the anti-circumcision cause.
People who never gave it a thought before are appalled and repulsed.
Hat tip: Trevor Blake