The problem with our court system is that judges interject their personal opinions into their decisions. Justice is supposed to be blind, only the facts and legal statutes are to be considered. When the court becomes involved with a parent’s choice regarding an elective medical procedure, it becomes a matter of civil rights vs. the legal system.
A woman in Florida will be incarcerated unless she signs a consent form to have her four-year-old son circumcised. Although Heather Hironimus originally agreed with the boy’s father, Dennis Nebus, to have the boy’s foreskin removed, she has changed her mind. Her decision resulted in a court battle with the father.
Hironimus subsequently fled with her son; Nebus has not seen the boy since February 20th. Judge Jeffrey Gillen labeled the mother as ‘reprehensible’ for placing the boy in the public spotlight. Gillen has placed Hironimus in contempt of court. If she does not surrender the boy by Tuesday, she will become the object of a police search. He has ordered her to sign the consent form or face time in jail.
The boy is in no physical danger if the circumcision is not performed; the surgery is not necessary. However, the judge has made his decision in favor of the father. He blames the mother for placing the case and the little boy before excessive scrutiny.
The Sun Sentinel has been covering the story. The newspaper became more involved and actually filed a motion to declare Judge Gillen’s order unconstitutional. The court declined saying the case did not fit within the parameters of a life or death situation or irreparable harm.
Protestors who call themselves ‘inactivists’ have become involved. They call the procedure barbaric. In the last four years a debate has risen regarding the necessity of removing the foreskin.
The Center for Disease Control claims that the benefits outweigh the risks. Circumcision reduces the risks of sexually transmitted diseases, urinary tract infections, and even penile cancer.
Although circumcision is commonplace in the United States, new research in Europe has resulted in doctors questioning the procedure.
The Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine published a report stating that circumcised boys are more likely to develop autism spectrum disorder (ASD), before they are ten-years-old.
Research was conducted in Denmark. More than 340,000 boys born between 1994 and 2003 were studied until the age of nine. Circumcised boys contracted nearly 5,000 cases of ASD.
Responding to protests, the doctors who were scheduled to perform the surgery have removed themselves from the debate due to publicity and even threats to their lives.
Nebus told reporters that circumcision is just the ‘normal thing to do;’ but is it? More importantly should a court mandate medical treatment? The boy has expressed fear regarding the removal of his foreskin; the mother is siding with the boy, but the father is insisting that it be performed. This situation should never have been accepted by the court as a legal argument. This is a personal situation and the decision should be made within the family.
The mother lives in Boynton Beach; the father in Boca Raton. Living apart increases the difficulty of communication. If the legal system became involved, it should have been within the family court system; a Circuit Judge should never be allowed to insert his personal opinion into the discussion.
Commentary by James Turnage