Thursday, March 26, 2015

FLORIDA UPDATE: Father Intent on Circumcising 4-yo Son Seeks to Legally Paralyze Mother

Current Status
In the latest news regarding the circumcision court battle in Florida, we learned that the mother has failed to appear in court to surrender her son, so that he may undergo a court-ordered circumcision at the wishes of the boy's father.

The judge, angry that the mother simply does not bend to his will and hand over the child for non-therapeutic genital surgery as the father wishes, has signed a warrant for her arrest, and the mother is now on the run.

Legal Paralysis Through Financial Disability
As if it weren't enough that the judge gag-ordered the mother from the very beginning and forbade her to go to anyone for help, it has been learned that the father is trying to legally paralyze the mother by disabling her financially.

In a desperate attempt, the father's attorney entered a motion on March 24th, to deny Chase's mother the use of any funds collected for her by others, and by making her bear sole responsibility for all legal fees.

Given the chain of events that have already transpired, it wouldn't be surprising if the judge grants the father this motion.

Can he DO that?
It's hard for me to believe that this case has made it this far, that it's come down to a judge ruling that a four-year-old child should be circumcised to appease his father's wishes, and that the mother, whose wishes obviously do not matter, should acquiescence and relinquish her son, whose wishes should be the first to matter, for non-therapeutic surgery.

To begin with, is it actually legally possible for a judge to disable one party by prohibiting it from seeking help from others in that party's defense? To merely sit there silently while a judge and his favored party simply tell the defendant how things are going to be?

Is it legally possible that a judge with a clear bias can be allowed to preside in such a case? Where it is clear that the judge has picked a side and is doing everything within his power to grant that side's wishes? To the point of completely ignoring anything the other side has to say in his/her defense?

The judge has made it clear that he is simply not going to listen to anyone speaking in the mother's defense. No amicus curiae from anyone, and designating someone to actually speak for the child, the boy whose genitals are in question, to convey his wishes is right out.

Is it legally possible that a judge can issue an order that a healthy, non-consenting individual has to undergo elective, non-medical, non-therapeutic surgery for no other reason than to appease an insistent father?

Can a judge rule that a defendant cannot defend himself, and deny him the right to seek help, even receive help, financial or otherwise, from others?

What kind of court is this where one party can ask the court for an advantage by curtailing the other's legal defenses?

Even if...
My question is, even in the event the judge does grant this motion for the father, how exactly does he plan to enforce it?

How exactly will he know which funds the mother is using were raised by human rights activists, and which ones were not?

The fact that this case has gone on as far as it has is completely insane.

The judge should have taken a good look at the fact that the subject in this case is a grown, healthy 4-year old, and told the father it's simply too late.

When is a higher authority going to step in and halt this judge's mad quest to enforce what is essentially court-ordered child abuse?

Sensible authorities need to step in, declare the agreement invalid, and vindicate this mother so that she and this poor child could go back to living their lives in peace.

Previous Posts:
FLORIDA: Belligerent Judge Seeks the Circumcision of a 4 Year Old

FLORIDA UPDATE: Mother in Circumcision Dispute Fails to Appear in Court - Judge Orders Her Arrest

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

FLORIDA UPDATE: Mother in Circumcision Dispute Fails to Appear in Court - Judge Orders Her Arrest

In an earlier post, I commented on the status of a case where a judge has ordered the forced circumcision of a healthy non-consenting 4-year-old, and where the boy and the mother have gone missing.

The deadline given by the judge has passed (March 10, 2015 at 2PM), the mother and her son have failed to appear, and the judge has signed her arrest warrant.

The Sun Sentinel has reported that two new lawyers are speaking on the mother's behalf.

One of them has said "The child is scared to death of the procedure and doesn't want it."

They were hoping the judge would consider requests for a mental health examination of the child, and to appoint an independent guardian to speak for the boy at future court proceedings, but the judge isn't hearing any of it.

In fact, in previous hearings, the judge has declined to hear anything in the mother's defense, including an amicus curiae filed by organization Attorneys for the Rights of the Child (ARCLaw).

Yes, it appears the judge is set on having that 4-year-old child circumcised or bust.

That a court can actually order a parent to acquiescence to the subjection of her son to needless surgery seems so surreal to me.

In a similar case, a mother in Israel was being fined $140 dollars daily until she agreed to have her son circumcised to appease her ex-husband's wishes. In the end, the fine was dropped, and the mother and child were allowed to go unharmed. Could it be that Israel is more progressive and have better sense than the US in this regard?

This comment was gleaned from an intactivist forum:

"I'm going to use men with guns to hunt you and your mother down. Then they'll throw her in a cage and give her a criminal record and cut the flesh off your penis.

... said no moral human being ever."

Higher authorities need to step in, relieve this judge, possibly have his sanity examined, and give this case a fair hearing.

This is the face of a Muslim child about to get circumcised. In Muslim traditions, children are circumcised at much later ages. If this judge's rulings are enforced, I can only imagine that this is what that poor boy will look like.

Someone PLEASE step in to protect this mother and child.


Previous Post:
FLORIDA: Belligerent Judge Seeks the Circumcision of a 4 Year Old

Saturday, March 7, 2015

FLORIDA: Belligerent Judge Seeks the Circumcision of a 4 Year Old

News of this case had been all over intactivist circles, and as much as I could help it, I didn't want to touch it. But now, the situation in Florida has escalated, and I feel compelled to write about it.

Long Story Short
A four year old child is caught in the middle of a court dispute. His parents never married, but long ago, they both agreed to have their male child circumcised and signed a legal contract. The boy is now four years old, he hasn't been circumcised, and despite the legal agreement they made earlier, the mother has changed her mind and does not want her son to undergo needless surgery, as the boy is healthy, there is no medical indication for surgical intervention, and there are risks, including death.

The case has been in Florida courts for the past year or so, and it has culminated in the judge siding with the father, invoking the legal contract signed by both parents, and ordering that the child must be circumcised as the father wishes, against the mother's wishes, irrespective of what the child, now fully conscious and aware of his own body, wants for himself.

We Talk, You Listen: Crippled Early On
Of peculiarity is the fact that the judge sought to disable the mother from defending her case early on. He placed a gag order on her that forbade her from going to the media, or seeking out the funds necessary for her defense. She was not to talk to the boy about what would happen to him. Basically the judge wanted to render her and her child helpless, sitting ducks. I suppose the judge was expecting for the mother to just fold her hands and say "Here! Take the child; he's all yours."

Silenced, forbidden from seeking funds, even talking to her own child, what was this mother supposed to do? It is clear that the judge sought to rig this case in the father's favor from the very beginning. In my opinion, this is a problem in and of itself. How is it fair to strip one side of their defenses?

Intactivists Step In
The judge may have issued this mother a gag order, but this didn't stop intactivist groups from publicizing this child's case on her behalf, and on behalf of that child. Many groups and individuals have worked hard to raise awareness of this case, and to raise funds for this mother's legal expenses in spite of the judge's attempted blackout. They have also staged protests.

The Plot Thickens
At the end of last year, the judge decided the mother didn't have a case, and that plans for the father to have her son circumcised should proceed as detailed in the legal contract signed by both parents. Even so, the mother has tried her best to prolong the legal battle, attempting to extend her son's grace period for as long as she can.

Within the past few months, the father has tried to arrange for the elective procedure to happen. On February 18, 2015, the mother filed a motion for injunction. The judge denied the mother’s motion for an injunction and a hearing was scheduled for March 6, 2015. Two days later, on Friday, February 20, 2015, the judge ordered that the circumcision could proceed without the mother’s consent, in the event the mother refuses.

It is now March 7th, the father has been seeking to have the child circumcised, and now the mother and child are nowhere to be found. The judge has ruled that the mother must appear in court to hand over her son, and she must sign a consent form to have him circumcised by Tuesday, March 10, 2015 at 2PM or face jail time. In addition, he "blames" her for making the case public.

It appears the judge is hell-bent on having this four year old child circumcised, meanwhile trying to paint his mother as some sort of villain for standing up and seeking help on his behalf.

Something is seriously the matter with this judge.

What Happens Now?
Many intactivists feared this would happen. In fact, quite a few cautioned against counseling the mother to take the boy and run, that if there were any chance this boy would be spared needless surgery, fleeing with the child would destroy it.

But I say, what choice did she have? Besides just stand by and watch as her child is taken from her arms to have a stranger needlessly cut off part of his penis? If running is the only way to extend the protection of this child's rights, then I say so be it.

In all honesty, I'm not sure what I, the author of this blog would do if I were in this woman's shoes.

I'd like the reader to try and picture what would happen if this case happened in reverse.

You have a daughter with someone and you initially agree to have her circumcised. You sign a legal document, and it's binding, as you live in a country where female circumcision is "normal" and socially accepted. You read more information about it and you want to change your mind. You and the person you had your daughter with go to court and the judge sides with that person, citing "research" that says it prevents cancer and STDs, and that it's "very, very safe."

You are to hand over your daughter at a determined date to be circumcised, and you will not see her during her healing period.


What News Outlets Are Saying
Of course, this case has been in the news since last year, and there are too many articles to quote, so I'll be quoting from the most recent articles, and highlighting points from them that jumped out at me.

From the Daily Mail (UK):
"In a stinging rebuke of the mother, [the judge] said she had successfully dragged out a legal battle and was 'reprehensible' for going missing with the boy and for conduct that has put the 4-year-old in a public spotlight 'making him an object of curiosity and worse'. "
What I find "reprehensible" is that this judge has the nerve of trying to vilify this mother after all he has done, trying to put a gag order on her, hastening the child's circumcision by removing the need for her consent, etc.

What I find "reprehensible" is the audacity of this judge to condemn that this case be made public. 
Why is he so concerned that the public not be aware of his ruling?

"She will only avoid jail on the contempt charge, [the judge] said, if she signs paperwork necessary to schedule the procedure that she initially agreed to in a legal document."
I find it ironic that the judge is basically trying to force this woman to sign consent papers on this child's behalf. "Sign or rot in jail," basically. There goes "consent..." Again, something is seriously the matter with this judge.
"'This child has been placed in a light that provides much too much scrutiny for a little boy,' the judge said. 'I blame no one but the mother for that.'"

This is truly unbelievable.

It is more of a problem for this judge, that this child's case is being scrutinized, and not the fact that he has ordered the child undergo needless surgery at the expense of his bodily integrity, not to mention his basic human rights.

Says the father:

"'She's willing to flee with him and plaster him all over the Internet and do anything she can,' [the father] said. 'She's stated that she's going to do everything that she can to stop it.'"
And he is surprised?

And then, almost as if obligatory, the article concludes:
"The CDC says medical evidence shows benefits clearly outweigh risks, and that circumcision can lower a male's risk of sexually transmitted diseases, penile cancer and urinary tract infections."

What the article doesn't say is that in the end, the CDC can't commit to an actual recommendation for male infant circumcision based on the current body of medical literature.

The trend of opinion on routine male circumcision is overwhelmingly negative in industrialized nations. No respected medical board in the world recommends circumcision for infants, not even in the name of HIV prevention. They must all point to the risks, and they must all state that there is no convincing evidence that the benefits outweigh these risks. To do otherwise would be to take an unfounded position against the best medical authorities of the West.
It must be asked what bearing the half-assed, non-committal CDC statement on male infant circumcision has on a healthy 4 year old who is at zero risk for sexually transmitted disease. Not even the American Cancer Society recommends infant circumcision as a measure to prevent penile cancer, and UTIs are already rare and easily treated.

From a  blog from NewTimes:
"In a hearing held Friday, [the judge] heard testimony from the boy's father, over how [the mother] has fled and vanished with their son. [The father] also asked the court to have [the mother]stop allowing anti-circumcision activists to continue using their son's name and likeness on the internet. She had been ordered to do so in the past but has disobeyed that court order."

As if she could stop other groups from doing what they want... As if she or he had any command over it... In the past she was ordered that she was not to make the case public. This didn't mean that others weren't free to do so on her and that poor child's behalf. She didn't disobey anything. That judge has a problem for trying to put a lid on this case.

"During his testimony, [the father] detailed an incident where [the mother] burst into a doctor's office where the child was being examined in order to schedule a procedure. [The father] said she "threw a tantrum" and yelled at the medical staff that she had not given consent for the boy to be examined by the doctor. [The father] said their son, who had witnessed the outburst, was "visibly shaken." He also claimed that the boy had expressed fear over getting a circumcision. [The father] hinted on the stand that this was due to Hironimus' using "scare tactics" on the boy, though he didn't make clear what those tactics might've been."

And why shouldn't this mother have been outraged that her child was being examined for surgery without her consent? It's telling how now the judge, the lawyer and everyone involved on the father's behalf is trying to make the mother look like a villain. Yes, I'm sure it was the mother and her "scare tactics," and not the fact that the child is awaiting someone to come and cut off part of his penis, that scared the child.

Really, dad? Some father YOU are...

"[The judge]said he expected that, although [the mother] was ordered not to allow the boy's name and likeness to be taken from her personal Facebook and used on these websites, she did anyway. 'I expected this to happen,' [the judge] said during his ruling, 'that the child's likeness would be used, making him an object of curiosity on the Internet.'"

But why would he expect that? And why would he want to preempt it with a gag order?

Is it the child that the judge fears would be an object of curiosity? Or was it circumcision? Or the fact that it was going to happen on a 4 year old without any medical indication whatsoever?

"Moreover, [the judge] said that he had heard enough testimony from doctors that circumcision is safe. 'I have heard testimony from doctors that there are zero cases of penile cancer in circumcised males, but there have been some cases in uncircumcised males,' [the judge] said. 'I've also heard testimony from doctors that there are less cases of STDs in circumcised males than in uncircumcised males.'

That circumcised males are immunized against penile cancer is simply categorically false. One must wonder why sexually transmitted disease is a concern in a four year old, and why he couldn't decide what STD prevention methods he would like to employ for himself as a sexually active adult.

"[The judge], saying he wanted to 'rein in this case,' also added that circumcision is 'short, under local anesthesia, and, at this stage of the boy's life, very, very safe.'"

So now,  judge is some sort of certified doctor. Yes, I'm sure he must have a degree in pediatric medicine, especially where urology and surgery are concerned.

Is he dense or is he deliberately missing the point?

Would female circumcision be justified to do in a girl if it "reduced cancer and sexually transmitted diseases," and rendered "very, very safe?"

I gleaned the following from The Sun Sentinel, and it seems telling of people's ignorance on the matter:
"[The father] has said he decided to pursue the circumcision in December 2013 when the boy was 3, after he said he noticed his son was urinating on his leg. The father on Friday said the boy's pediatrician had diagnosed a condition called phimosis, which prevents retraction of the foreskin."
If the reporter at The Sun Sentinel is to be believed, readers are being asked to just ignore the legal document the father has to go on. This is no longer about disputing the validity of a legal agreement, but about whether or not circumcision is medically indicated in the child.

The father wasn't intent on circumcising this child at the time he signed the legal document in question, he decided in 2013 he would like to circumcise his son.

Yes, let it be heard here that urinating on one's leg is a sign of phimosis, and not of childhood urinary incontinence. Is this some kind of joke?

It appears now that the father is seeking to use pseudo-medicine to circumcise this perfectly healthy child.

Phimosis? Dad? When medical literature indicates that a child's foreskin does not necessarily retract in infancy? But could remain non-retractile up until late teens?


Scraping the bottom of the barrel.

'There is no reason this case has to have gone this far, under these circumstances, drawing this much attention to a little boy,' [the judge] said. 'There is just no reason.'

The judge is right. He could have just told the father the mother reconsidered, she is as much a parent of the child as he is, and she has every right to change her mind and intervene for her child.

I think what the judge means to say here is that he wishes attention to circumcision, particularly the circumcision of a healthy, non-consenting four year-old. Weren't drawn.

By now, I think he should be aware that the cat's out of the bag, and a gag-order is not going to stuff it back in.

"The most recent federal statistics indicate circumcision is waning in popularity across the country, but a national pediatricians' group says the health benefits of the procedure for newborn males are greater than the risks."

The national pediatricians' group in question is the AAP, and though yes, they did try to repeat the sound-bite  that "the health benefits of circumcision outweigh the risks," many times, in the end, they couldn't commit to a recommendation, citing, in their very own article that, "the benefits are not great enough."

Despite what the CDC and AAP have to say on the matter, it remains true and irrefutable fact that no respected medical organization recommends infant circumcision based on current medical literature.

How can it be?
The judge has made a very true point; how is it that this case has gone on as far as it has?

It must be asked, without medical or clinical indication, how is it doctors can legally be performing non-medical surgery on healthy, non-consenting minors? Let alone be giving parents any kind of "choice" in the matter?

How is it that whether or not this child will undergo surgery depends on a written agreement, and not on the presence or absence of medical necessity?

How is it the court can order a mother to relinquish her son, and her voice to protect that son from needless surgery?

There is seriously something very wrong with courts in so-called 1st world developed countries that would allow this to happen.

All Wanted Secrecy - But WHY?
The father, the judge in this case, the father's lawyers have all tried to put a lid on this case. The judge put a gag order on the mother forbidding her to go to the media, or to seek out funds for her legal expenses. The father in particular was hoping to prevent the boy from becoming a poster boy for human rights activists who opposed the forced circumcision of healthy, non-consenting minors.

But why?

Why was the judge complicit in trying to keep this case under wraps?

It is said that only those who do evil hate the light, and avoid it, lest their deeds should be reproved. They clench their fists and gnash their teeth when anybody dares shine light on them. It is those who speak the truth, and fear not the truth who don't fear the light. Lo, they come to it and stand in it that their deeds may be made manifest.

The judge also ordered the media not to release the name of the child, and also asked reporters to be "sensitive" about identifying the parents, "Not in deference to me, but in deference to the protection of the individuals involved."

Just whom does the judge want to "protect?" And why? Certainly not the boy. The boy and his well-being are his least concern. He's talking about the "protection" the father who would be surely hated for his actions. And he is most definitely talking about himself, who would be seen as nothing more than an enabler of the deliberate violation of this child's basic human rights.

They all know they are engaging in deliberate child abuse through forced genital mutilation, and they do not want the light of scrutiny shone on them.

That is why they wanted to have concluded this case in secret.

Who Are the Players? What's at Stake?
The judge, the father, the father's lawyers etc. would all prefer for there to be a media black out regarding this case.

And this is precisely why I'm going to mention the parents' names right here in my blog. (They are no secret, as the names have appeared in other previous news sources.)

This is four-year old Chase.

This is the poor boy caught in the crossfire between his parents. He is not sick, he is not suffering any kind of illness that indicates surgical treatment. Yet the court has ordered that he needs to undergo surgery, the sole reason being the appeasement of his father. This is the child whose penis is in question. And yet, he is but a bystander in the whole case. No one seems to be bothered, no one seems to be interested in what he has to say regarding the future of his own body. That is, except human rights activists who are fighting for his cause.

Heather Hironimus is Chase's mother, here they are pictured together.

This is Dennis Nebus is Chase's father.

And this is Judge Jeffery Dana Gillen, the judge who appears to have made it his life's mission to see to it that Chase undergoes circumcision.

It must be asked, why in the world would a judge be concerned that this case not be made public? Is it the child's well-being he is concerned about? Or is it something that runs a bit deeper?

I can only speculate, but I think that this judge knows that siding with the mother and recognizing the fact the boy is healthy, and that circumcision is medically unnecessary, will open up a can of worms across the country, perhaps even the world. More and more circumcision is a hot-button issue in this country, and this judge and others may be working to prevent any kind of precedent that says a child's rights ought to be recognized, or even that a child should be spared in the event that parents cannot come to an agreement.

The judge may even have his own personal agenda. I speculate that the judge is himself circumcised, possibly a father to circumcised children, and he is taking the father's side, and placing himself in the father's shoes. Methinks the judge would himself be devastated if his wife would intervene on behalf of his male children and refuse to allow anyone to circumcise them.

Based on the fact that he was invited to be a speaker for career day at the Donna Klein Jewish Academy, where all invited speakers are prominent Jews in the community, it has been speculated in intactivist circles that he may be Jewish, and thus have a religious conviction to make sure this case falls through for the mother, and is a victory for the father. In a recent case in Israel, a mother succeeded in preventing her son from undergoing circumcision, much to the chagrin of the child's father, and the rabbinical court who wanted that child circumcised. Perhaps this judge wants to prevent a similar precedent in the US? It is possible the Academy may have made an exception and decided to invite a non-Jew to address the students, but doubtful given that one of the main goals of the event seems to be laud accomplishments made by Jewish members.

At any rate, one way or another, I suspect the judge of having a dog in the race, and is abusing his position of power to make sure things go his way. He ought to be relieved from this case, and it should be seen by other judges. This man is proving to be arrogant and belligerent, and it is clear that he could care less for the well-being of this child.

"A Personal Choice"
Circumcision advocates like to bandy about these words when it comes to defending parents who are adamant that their children be circumcised, but it seems their very meaning is lost on them, because they seem to be, either intentionally, or deliberately, leaving out the person whose genitals are in question.

If the child were actually suffering a condition, it would be a different matter, as treatment is necessary, and parents would be faced with having to make a decision.

But otherwise, why is the child and his own express wishes completely ignored?

In essence, the courts are treating this child like a slave in a business transaction between owners. Perhaps even worse; he's being treated like cattle to be branded.

No "personal choice," no basic human rights, no human dignity for this child.

The Bottom Line
The foreskin is not a birth defect. Neither is it a congenital deformity or genetic anomaly akin to a 6th finger or a cleft. Neither is it a medical condition like a ruptured appendix or diseased gall bladder. Neither is it a dead part of the body, like the umbilical cord, hair, or fingernails.

The foreskin is not "extra skin." The foreskin is normal, natural, healthy, functioning tissue, present in all males at birth; it is as intrinsic to male genitalia as labia are to female genitalia.

Unless there is a medical or clinical indication, the circumcision of a healthy, non-consenting individuals is a deliberate wound; it is the destruction of normal, healthy tissue, the permanent disfigurement of normal, healthy organs, and by very definition, infant genital mutilation, and a violation of the most basic of human rights.

Without medical or clinical indication, doctors have absolutely no business performing surgery in healthy, non-consenting individuals, much less be eliciting any kind of "decision" from parents.

There is something seriously wrong with the courts in Florida, or any court that would allow the elective, non-medical circumcision on a healthy, non-consenting individual, especially a four year old child, where the child will be old enough, fully aware, and fully conscious of what would happen to his body, and who will remember this event for the rest of his life.

The court system is broken if the rights of a healthy, non-consenting individual are tramped.

This is the face of a Muslim child just before he undergoes a ritual circumcision. In Muslim traditions, children are circumcised at much later ages. Notice the comfort money he has been given. Notice where his hands are. Notice the look of fear and despair in his face. No one used "fear tactics" to scare this child. He knows what's coming, and he is scared. I can only imagine that if Chase is forcibly circumcised, his face too will look something like this just before. My heart breaks just to think about it.

May there be justice for this poor child.

 "Who will cry for the little boy, he cried himself to sleep
Who will cry for the little boy, who never had it for keeps
Who will cry for the little boy, who walked on burning sands
Who will cry for the little boy, the boy inside a man
Who will cry for the little boy, who knew well hurt and pain
Who will cry for the little boy, who died and died again 
Who will cry for the little boy, a good boy he tried to be
Who will cry for the little boy, who cries inside of me"
From the movie Antwone Fischer

SOMEBODY has got to stand up for this boy and mother. Somebody has got to be their voice.

SHAME on this judge for taking this mother's voice away, and for disregarding the voice of the boy whose body is in question.

SHAME on him for abusing his position of power.

Related Posts:

The Circumcision Blame Game

OUT OF LINE: AAP Circumcision Policy Statement Formally Rejected

USA: Centers for Disease Control to Mirror American Academy of Pediatrics