Heather Hironimus and the Circumcision Battle of the Century - Carlos GaminoBy Carlos Gamino

Heather Hironimus and her young son, Chase, have been patiently waiting at an unnamed domestic violence shelter.

Why? Because a Florida judge ordered that Hironimus consent to having her 4-year-old son circumcised.

Hironimus and the child’s father, who were never married, signed a parenting agreement in 2012, in which Hironimus agreed to have the boy circumcised when and if the father paid for it – but since then, Hironimus learned that only 54 percent of American boys are now circumcised and that many people view it as a cosmetic, outdated procedure.

The Beginning of the World’s Most Talked-About Circumcision Battle

Although Chase’s father, Dennis Nebus, claimed that his son had a medical condition known as phimosis and therefore needed to be circumcised, he hasn’t been able to provide any proof of that. That’s probably because phimosis cannot affect children.

Thus began the heated court battle between Hironimus and Nebus.

A pediatric urologist testified in the case that the procedure is not medically necessary for the boy.

However, Florida Judge Jeffrey Dana Gillen sided with Nebus, ordering the parents to schedule the boy’s circumcision anyway.

Fighting the Funding

Nebus seems determined to have his four-year-old son circumcised regardless of the mother’s—or the little boy’s—wishes. He recently filed a motion to disallow the boy’s mother from using funds collected by others to fight the Florida court’s ruling.

Nebus testified in court that his son told him he was terrified of the procedure.

Judge Gillen then did something surprising: he issued a gag order on the mother, forbidding her from talking to the press and from telling her son that she did not want him to undergo the procedure. Further, he ordered that mother and son be separated for several weeks following the procedure.

That gag order didn’t stop protesters from turning out in droves. In fact, it may have fanned the flames; now they turn up at the courthouse, in front of physicians’ offices who have volunteered to perform the boy’s surgery and in front of news crews at every chance.

The fact that the procedure is not medically necessary is of great importance in this case. Nebus was unable to provide evidence that the child had even been diagnosed with phimosis, and neither the boy’s mother nor the boy himself, who is almost 5 years old, consent to the unnecessary procedure.

A Frightening Precedent

This case could set an important, and frightening, precedent: can the courts force a person’s consent to what’s regarded in the rest of the developed world as an outdated, purely cosmetic practice? This could be a very slippery slope, which is why this case needs to be talked about.

Hironimus has now filed a federal lawsuit against the judge, so it’s worth keeping an eye on.

What do you think? Was the Florida judge correct in ordering Hironimus to consent to this procedure? I’d love to hear your thoughts, so let’s have a discussion on Facebook!

Carlos Gamino