A woman who went on the lam with her four-year-old son to prevent him from being genitally mutilated at the behest of his father was arrested and imprisoned last Thursday and is now in federal court.
Heather Hironimus, 31, was arrested Thursday in the long-running dispute over the removal of her 4-year-old child’s foreskin. She went missing with the boy nearly three months ago and ignored a judge’s warnings that if she didn’t appear in court and give consent for the circumcision to proceed, she faced jail.
The case originated in state courts but will be heard in a federal courtroom Monday in West Palm Beach. An attorney for Hironimus filed a federal civil rights complaint as legal options faded.
The parents had “signed an agreement” but Hironomus changed her mind.
Hironimus, 31, went missing with her son after a judge compelled her to turn the child over to his father, Dennis Nebus, and have him undergo the procedure. The child is reportedly “scared to death” of being circumcised. The couple were never married but had signed a parenting agreement in court in which Hironimus had initially agreed to their son being circumcised. However, she later changed her mind, setting off a drawn-out court battle with Nebus.
In March, a Palm Beach County judge signed a warrant for Hironimus’ arrest after she missed a court appearance. The mother subsequently filed a civil rights lawsuit last month arguing that circumcision violated her son’s Christian faith. While circumcision is largely a matter of personal preference rather than religion for many Christian parents in the United States, Hironimus’s case cited specific passages of the New Testament as well as Catholic teachings that read, “except when performed for strictly therapeutic medical reasons, directly intended amputations, mutilations, and sterilizations performed on innocent persons are against the moral law.”
Ugh. I wish all parties would argue the case in secular terms, because otherwise you just get dueling arbitrary commandments, which is what it says on the tin – arbitrary. It should be a human rights issue, not a competing-religions issue.
The case has generated national attention, largely fueled by the growing “intactivist” movement, which argues that subjecting infant boys to the procedure is barbaric and that it is unethical for parents to make the decision for their children. Many of these activists have rallied behind Hironmius’ cause, framing the case as a human rights issue.
But she is apparently not framing it that way, which makes it tricky.
Bottom line? All parties should respect the rights of the four-year-old boy and leave his penis alone until he’s old enough to decide for himself.
No “bottom line” jokes. Just kidding; you would never do that.