Florida judge forces boy’s circumcision

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

11 responses to “Florida judge forces boy’s circumcision”

  1. zombiehunter says:

    utterly fucking disgusting, all circumcision should be treated with the same contempt and what about the child has nobody thought to ask him what he wants?? would it not be in his best interest to wait til he’s old enough to make an informed choice on his own and surely holding the mother indefinitely violates a shitload of constitutional rights??

    \Either way her “consent” was gained through coercion so surely that cant be legit and should give any surgeon approached to carry out the procedure to a good reason to refuse.

  2. David Anderson says:

    This is so fucking disgusting. Apart from the fact that the American justic system is so fucking ridiculous, look at that woman in chains and handcuffs like she is some sort of mass murderer or a threat to all those gun toteing doughnut eating deputies. For what? I know, it’s to humiliate and degrade people into compliance.

    I have a dream that this boy’s father and the judge live long enough to be sued by him for the mutilation of his body without his consent. Oh what a day that would be.

    Did I mention that this man and the judge are shitstains on society and the world?

  3. L.Long says:

    The woman was silly enough to make a court agreement to get the kids dick cut. She should have changed her mind in another court! She signed, so kid suffers!! The dad is a religious nut so no problem there. BUT… no religious cult should be allowed to harm a kid unnecessarily and at the age of consent then he can then decide to get his dick cut. The main problem with this is the same as all religions have…they would probably not do it, which will piss the powerful con-men off! So kids must be brainwashed, indoctrinated,and mutilated at a young age.

  4. Vanity Unfair says:

    “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.”

    This is not a young man. This is a child. A young man would be able to make his own decisions. Enforcing this operation means that he will never be able to make that decision for himself. The court’s duty is to protect the child. In English law a child’s welfare is the court’s paramount duty (Children Act 1989 s1 (1). Can the USA be so far behind?
    Any similar procedure to a girl would be illegal (18 U.S. Code § 116) and render the perpetrator liable to five years imprisonment. Is there no anti-discrimination law available? I know the answer; that’s a rhetorical question.
    An agreement, contract or acquiescence to a course of action obtained under duress is not, and cannot be, valid or binding. The court’s attempt to do this is a violation of the mother’s and the child’s rights.
    That the parents have failed to reach an agreement on this aspect of the child’s upbringing is obvious and the cause before the court. This brings us back to the first point and here the court should apply the precautionary principle and not order any unnecessary surgical intervention especially one that is, as in this case, irredeemable.

    I wonder whether it would be possible to get the child into court “chained at the wrists and ankles and wearing a navy blue jail jumpsuit.”

  5. When it comes to free speech, US law is often more progressive than UK law.

    But in the UK circumcision is considered a “controversial” procedure, for which the consent of all parties with parental responsibility is required. See e.g. or

  6. Michael Glass says:

    The thing I find most disgusting about this whole episode is the way the justice system treated this poor woman. Regardless of the document that she had signed, it was obvious that the woman changed her mind about circumcising the child.

    Faced with this situation, where one parent wanted the boy circumcised and the other one did not, the judge treated her change of mind as a breach of contract, and when he ordered her to come to the court and agree to the circumcision she went into hiding.

    Now the judge could get her for contempt of court and interfering with a custody order, and when after some months she was caught and jailed, he had the poor woman in his power. The only way she could get out of jail was to comply with his will and sign the papers for the circumcision.

    Her lawyers appealed to a Federal court, but this court also proved to be unsympathetic, so she and her legal advisers were left with nowhere to go.

    The result: the picture above, where a shackled, weeping and distressed woman is forced to consent in writing to an operation on her son that she so vehemently opposed. It is obvious that the judge was determined not only to have the boy circumcised but to bully and humiliate the woman into submission. Feminists should be up in arms about the way she was treated!

    On the strength of a signature that was wrung out of a distressed woman against her will, and under duress, her son will be circumcised.

    This whole disgusting spectacle shows just how weak the case was for the boy to be circumcised. If the judge was so gung-ho on circuimcision, why didn’t he order the circumcision himself? If the judge really needed her signature, why couldn’t he depend on the document she had already signed?

    He dared not order the circumcision on his own authority.

    He dared not depend on a signature on a document when it was obvious that she had later changed her mind.

    Therefore he resorted to getting her to sign for the circumcision under duress.

    I cannot see how such a signature, obtained under such conditions, can be considered a valid consent for anything. In 14 years time the boy will have reached the age of 18. I hope he will have the intestinal fortitude to sue the socks off the judge who was so cruel to his mother and who subjected him to an unnecessary operation.

  7. Trey says:

    You guys are so easy to blame religion. The lady signed a legal agreement without coercion involved and then tried to back out of it. The judge had to uphold the agreement or he would not have been doing his job. Just look at his ending remarks. Besides circumcision has a lot of health benefits and not everyone does it for religious reasons. Look it up on WebMD and decide for yourself is the dad was right or wrong for yourself.

  8. Laura Roberts says:

    At best the results are mixed. See, e.g., Bossio et al., “A Review of the Current State of the Male Circumcision Literature”, JSM, 2014. They address problems with WebMD specifically. However, even if one were to concede the reported health benefits, they are largely relevant only to sexually active males and hence waiting until puberty seems a prudent choice.

    Having said that, I wouldn’t judge parents too harshly who wish to circumcize a male child for medical reasons (religious reasons are another matter). When the medical literature is so mixed, one can hardly expect parents (or some physicians) to make the “right” choice.

    I have very little respect for the American justice system. I’ve met my share of lawyers, judges and policemen and I’ve served on juries. While I have met a few decent and thoughtful individuals, and count them among my friends, by and large I have been appalled at the level of pretense and ignorance that permeates every level of the legal community.

  9. Michael Glass says:

    I think it’s worrying that commentators here are so judgmental about this woman.

    * People have a right to change their mind. If they can change their mind about marriage and religion, then they can change their mind about circumcision. This is not a hanging offence.

    * Of course, many Americans believe that circumcision has a lot of health benefits. Others, including a minority of Americans, dispute these assertions. Is the woman being punished because she is on the less popular side of a cultural divide?

    * Even if the woman was wrong in her opinions and the others were right, why did they treat her so cruelly? I would disagree but I could understand if the judge simply ordered that the boy be circumcised. I would disagree but I could understand if the judge had found the woman’s initial consent could not be revoked. What I cannot understand is how the judge could reject her original agreement but could accept an “agreement” wrung out of her under duress. This is not only wrong but completely bizarre!

    *Finally, this really isn’t about religion. Neither of the parents are Jewish or Muslim and as far as I know neither are the judges, either.

  10. Phill says:

    This judge is presenting as a ferociously bad person. This case needs to get out of this court as fast as possible.