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Months-Long Circumcision Battle Coming To Close

Broward County Sheriff's Office

Heather Hironimus has filed suit, gone into hiding and, ultimately, wound up in jail trying to stop her 4-and-a-half-year-old son's circumcision. The Sun Sentinel reports the South Florida mother dropped her federal lawsuit Wednesday.

In 2012, Heather Hironimus and her son's father, Dennis Nebus, signed a parenting plan that included an agreement to have their son circumcised.

The following year, Nebus decided to go through with the procedure. The father "has testified he thinks circumcision is 'just the normal thing to do' and he decided late in 2013 to press for it after noticing his son was urinating on his leg," the Sentinel reports. "The father says the boy has a condition called phimosis, which prevents retraction of the foreskin, but the mother has said there is no such diagnosis."

But by this time mother Heather Hironimus had changed her mind. Her attorney, Thomas Hunker, argued that the procedure would unnecessarily expose the boy to risk:

"This is a potentially life-and-death situation," Hunker said, contending that the child doesn't respond well to general anesthesia and is prone to scarring that could further harm his genitals if he survives. He further argued the circumcision is not "reversible" and violates his right to bodily "integrity."

Reporter Marc Freeman has been following the story for the Sun Sentinel Media Group and says the case has spawned courthouse protests and a loyal group of circumcision opponents trying to raise money for the mother.

“It’s an unprecedented legal battle as far as anybody knows, there’s never been anything quite like this concerning a circumcision," Freeman told WLRN. "So it’s touched off a lot of debates about what parents have in terms of rights to have medical treatments with their children. That may have been an area that would have been further expanded upon had the federal lawsuits gone forward, but now that’s all over. So it still can be a public debate, it just might not be a court debate.”

Last May, a Palm Beach County Circuit judge ruled that the boy’s father had the right to go forward with the circumcision. Heather Hironimous went into hiding with her son and was arrested last week. She’s being held on charges of interfering with custody.

Reporter Marc Freeman says it’s unclear at this time how the child’s father plans to proceed. For more on the case, read Freeman's story here.