November 18, 2014
Upheld: Healthy Florida Boy to be Circumcised Against Mom's Wishesby Rebecca Wald
The fight to save her four-year-old son from non-medically necessary circumcision recently got a lot tougher for a South Florida mom. On November 6 an appeals court upheld a ruling allowing the boy’s father to have him circumcised despite his mother’s deeply held belief that the procedure will be painful, damaging and emotionally harmful to him.
The mother, Heather Hironimus of Boynton Beach, and the father, Dennis Nebus of Boca Raton, had a brief relationship but never married. In January of 2012 the parents agreed to a court-ordered parenting plan which provided that the father would be responsible for scheduling and paying for the child’s circumcision. Although not initially opposed to the surgery, Hironimus says she later changed her mind after researching the procedure.
There are a number of very strange aspects to this case. The lower court judge Hon. Jeffrey Dana Gillian never appointed a Guardian ad Litem to advocate for the best interests of the child, and testimony by a child mental health professional was not allowed during trial. The lower court also placed a gag order on Hironimus preventing her from speaking about the case to the media or publicly raising funds for an appeal. She was also ordered not to tell her son that she opposes the procedure in any way, and to be separated from him for a period of weeks following the surgery.
Perhaps most disturbing is the age of the child. Circumcision beyond infancy is a more complicated procedure with an arguably greater risk of surgical complications. The boy will need need to be put under general anesthesia and intubated to facilitate ventilation of his lungs. At this age he will also be aware that his foreskin has been removed and will probably remember the event—including the court-mandated prolonged separation from his mother during this traumatic time.
No doubt in part due to the gag order on the mother, this case is not garnering much publicity, although Facebook and Twitter are buzzing and several celebrities have tweeted their support. Given that the case has already reached an appeals court, the chances of the mother prevailing at this point remain slim. Beyond the Bris will continue to follow this story and issue news updates as they happen.
In an interesting side note, an Orthodox Jewish website has condemned the ruling ordering the boy to be circumcised.