In Florida yesterday, (May 22), a judge sentenced a four year-old boy named Chase to a circumcision. Heather Hironimus, the boy’s mother, lost a months-long court battle and was ultimately unable to protect her son from a needless and potentially dangerous medical procedure, all because the boy’s father wants it done. Hironimus, 31, has been jailed since May 14 after nearly three months of hiding with her son in a domestic violence shelter, in a desperate attempt to keep him intact. A week later, May 22, she was forced to consent to a procedure she did not agree to in order to regain her freedom and custody of her son. Reportedly, she will be released from jail and reunited with her son soon.

saving chase, #savingchase, forced consent, circumcision, intactivism, heather hironimus, court ordered circumcision, parental rights

When Hironimus split from her son’s father, Dennis Nebus, in 2012, the two signed a parenting agreement which stated, in part, that the father could later schedule a circumcision for the then one year-old boy. The mother changed her mind later, and decided that she wanted to protect the boy from the unnecessary removal of a piece of his healthy penis. In March of this year, the parents began court proceedings to suss out the disagreement.

RELATED | German court outlaws circumcision for baby boys

In the intervening months, two state judges handed down morbid decisions which upheld the 2012 parenting agreement despite arguments about the risks of general anesthesia and scarring, as well as the knowledge that the boy himself does not want to be circumcised. Meanwhile, a wildfire of social media support was set ablaze, as the tags #SavingChase and #FreeHeather were used thousands of times on Twitter and Facebook.

In court on May 22, the mother appeared in handcuffs and was forced to sign a consent form, allowing the boy’s father to proceed with the circumcision, which he and his attorneys claim is medically necessary based on an undiagnosed case of phimosis, which prevents retraction of the foreskin.

Arguably, the boy’s mother did not actually decide to approve of the circumcision. Rather, she was strong-armed into cooperating because her only other option was to remain incarcerated for an indefinite period of time, without contact with her son, who had been placed in the father’s custody. Hironimus, who had never married the boy’s father, had previously shared custody of the child, but those rights were stripped when she was placed in jail for trying to protect his foreskin. Instead, the judge granted the father full custody and full parental authority for as long as Hironimus remained in jail.

The state judge’s final decision comes a week after Hironimus and her legal team quit a federal case, launched in an effort to override previous decisions by courts in the state of Florida. According to Hirnomus’ attorney Thomas Hunker, they decided to drop the federal case because it was “hopeless” and may have blocked future attempts at setting precedents for the rights of little boys to have a say about what happens to their genitals.

via Sun Sentinel

Images via Shyann Malone/Twitter and SavingChase.org/Facebook