Last week, Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Jeffrey Dana Gillen issued a final order, allowing Dennis Nebus, of Boca Raton, to circumcise his son, 3-year-old Chase. The boy’s mother, Heather Hironimus, is appealing.
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, according to the Orlando Sentinel, which reported this story, 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.
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.
During the hearing, according to the Sentinel, a pediatric urologist named Dr. Charles Flack told the judge that circumcision is not medically necessary. But then he added that “penile cancer only occurs in uncircumcised males,” and that circumcision reduces the risk of HIV infection.
Those reasons sound very convincing, but then you have to ask yourself: aren’t there other ways to avoid the HIV virus? I’m told using a condom during sex goes a long way in that direction. And yet, can you imagine a judge out there forcing people to wear condoms against their will?
As to penile cancer – I checked it out on the Internet (where I do most of my thinking), and guess what: besides not being circumcised, the risk factors for developing penis cancer include human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, phimosis (a condition where the foreskin cannot be fully retracted), poor hygiene, multiple sexual partners, tobacco use and – wait for it – being age 60 or older.
I could see the judge ordering folks to avoid becoming 60 on the grounds that it could make their penis sick, but it would probably be overturned.
What this judge did was side with the man whose involvement in the caring for the child has been, for all we know, spending that blissful night with his mom, almost four years ago, and now making him get the cut.
The court order also forbids the mother to tell her son that she is against the procedure: “Mother shall not in any way lead (her son) to believe that she is or was opposed to his being circumcised, whether or not she accompanies (her son) to the procedure.”
Heather Hironimus is on GoFundMe, where she’s already picked up just under the 10 grand she needed for her legal fees. 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.