ARC in the News: Protesters at Doctor's Office Hope to Stop 4-Year-Old From Being Circumcised

ARC's Jonathan Friedman has been in the news lately as he is hard at work in support of the Florida four-year-old boy, Chase Nebus-Hironimus.

South Florida Intactivists Unite held a protest on February 23, 2015 outside of Dr. Puranik’s offices, the surgeon who is planning on circumcising Chase.

Heather Hironimus, Chase’s mother, found out about a pre-op appointment last Wednesday that would have occurred without her knowledge if it weren’t for her daily checking of patient records for Chase.

On February 18, 2015, Hironimus filed a motion for injunction. The judge denied the mother’s motion for an injunction and a hearing is scheduled for March 6, 2015.

Two days later, on Friday, February 20, 2015, the judge ordered that the circumcision can proceed without the mother’s consent, in the event the mother’s refuses.

ARC has been assisting since we learned about the case in May 2014. We co-authored an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief that ended up not being accepted by the court due to errors by Chase's trial lawyer.  More recently, we co-wrote letters with Intact America and Doctors Opposing Circumcision that were sent out to all pediatric surgeons in the state of Florida.

ARC’s webmaster and newsletter editor Jonathan has also been assisting the case since May 2014, both under ARC and in various other capacities. He created SavingChase.org, which has raised over $13,000 in donations for a legal fund, and organized a protest last month that gained widespread media coverage. For his continued work on the case, and for all of his contributions to children’s rights over the years, Jonathan is being honored this month by Intact America as the “Intactivist of the Month.” He is also quoted in two of the three articles below.

Steven Svoboda
Executive Director
Attorneys for the Rights of the Child
www.arclaw.org


Circumcision Of Four-Year-Old Boy Scheduled, Protesters Target Surgeon

Jewish Business News

February 23, 2015

http://jewishbusinessnews.com/2015/02/23/circumcision-of-four-year-old-boy-scheduled-protesters-target-surgeon/

The circumcision of a four-year-old boy, Chase Nebus-Hironimus, which has been at the center of a national debate, is scheduled for Tuesday, February 24. Supporters have begun a campaign targeting Dr. Subhash Puranik – the would-be surgeon – and are due to protest outside of his office on Monday, in Plantation, FL.

“I am protesting because I believe that Chase, as well as all boys, should have the right to make this decision for themselves,” says Jenn Cote of Pembroke Pines, FL, a co-director of South Florida Intactivists Unite and organizer of the protest. Her group has been organizing protests in support of Chase and his mother since May 2014.

“Any doctor who can knowingly violate a child’s body by performing non-therapeutic surgery is a quack and deserves to lose his license,” says Colleen Cochran of Stuart, FL, member of South Florida Intactivists Unite. “Dr. Puranik has obviously lost sight of the most important tenet of medicine: First, do no harm.”

The battle over the boy’s foreskin has been going on for years. When the boy was just one year old, the his separated parents signed a contract which included an agreement for the boy’s father to schedule and pay for the circumcision in a timely manner.

The procedure, however, was never done and the matter was dropped after the boy’s mother, Heather Hironimus, decided not to go ahead with it. But the boy’s father, Dennis Nebus, raised the circumcision issue again, according to protesters to “spite the mother.”

The family court ruled in Nebus’ favor in May 2014, giving permission for the circumcision to be scheduled. Hironimus went through months of court proceedings to try and stop the circumcision, but in November 2014 her appeal was denied and she reached a legal dead end.

In the meantime, the father took the boy to pediatric urologist Dr. Charles Flack in Boynton Beach, FL, who said the boy was healthy and didn’t need a circumcision after examination. However, Dr. Flack did testify in the Florida court alleging that circumcision had health benefits, even though he wouldn’t circumcise his own son in a similar situation because of the risks of surgery.

“If he’s not having any problems, I wouldn’t want to bear that burden if, God forbid, something happened,” said Dr. Flack during a phone call to the court. Dr. Flack was the target of a protest last January but told protest organizer Jonathan Friedman by phone that he would not perform the surgery on Chase even with a court order since the mother doesn’t consent.

“Most people are outraged to learn that a doctor and a court official conspired to order the circumcision of a healthy and articulate four-year-old boy against his and his mother’s wishes,” says Friedman, who has been raising awareness about the case since May 2014. “People stopped by our protest last month and expressed anger and disbelief that such a situation could even happen here in America. Where did a respect for law, ethics and medicine go?”

Last week’s pre-op appointment was scheduled without the mother’s knowledge, though she learned about it in time to be present. Pre-op appointments are typically scheduled 1-2 weeks prior to surgery. The mother’s attorney filed an urgent motion for injunctive relief and contempt to try to prevent Tuesday’s surgery, but the court has yet to grant their request.

Stay tuned.


Protesters at Doctor's Office Hope to Stop 4-Year-Old From Being Circumcised

By Deirdra Funcheon

Broward/Palm Beach (Florida) New Times

February 23, 2015

http://blogs.browardpalmbeach.com/pulp/2015/02/protest_planned_at_doctors_office_where_4-year-old_will_be_circumcised.php?page=all

A 4-year-old boy named Chase has been at the center of a long court battle between his parents over whether he should be circumcised. The courts have now ruled that the circumcision be allowed to proceed, and the boy is reportedly due to be circumcised tomorrow at South Florida Pediatric Surgeons in Plantation.

Protesters, who believe that childhood circumcision is wrong because it's an invasive cosmetic surgery performed before a boy is old enough to consent, will be holding signs outside the doctor's office from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. today.

Organizer Jen Cote VanWie said they hoped to persuade Dr. Subhash Puranik not to perform the procedure. She said this tactic worked a few months ago, when a doctor in Boynton Beach had been scheduled to circumcise Chase but backed out after a protest at his office.

"We hope to convince this doctor to change his mind," she said. Even though the court had ruled that the boy's father be allowed to schedule the circumcision, the court "can't force [Puranik] into doing the surgery."

The saga began in 2010, when Dennis Nebus of Boca Raton and Heather Hironimus of Boynton Beach had a child together. They did not remain a couple but entered into a parenting agreement more than a year later. The agreement clearly stated that the father would be responsible for scheduling and paying for the boy's circumcision.

But after the mother learned more about what the procedure entailed, she objected because, court papers said, it was "not medically necessary and she did not want to have the parties' son undergo requisite general anesthesia for fear of death."

Both a local judge and then an appeals court eventually sided with Nebus. A judge ordered that Hironimus stop speaking to the media, but anticircumcision activists -- sometimes called "intactivists" -- largely took up the cause on her behalf, organizing protests and launching a website, savingchase.org, and a group, Chase's Guardians.

Jen Cote Van Wie said she became interested in the intactivist movement when she became pregnant and researched circumcision. She became an activist "when I found out that babies are dying from this."

Jonathan Friedman of Chicago designed the Saving Chase website and also does work for Attorneys for the Rights of the Child. He says he became involved in the intactivist movement because he had problems with his own circumcision.

He said that last year, Chase had a circumcision scheduled with a Boynton Beach doctor but that at the last minute, after a protest, the doctor backed out.

Friedman says that "a lot of doctor policies require consent from all guardians" and that the Boynton doctor had even asked the court if he would be legally protected from lawsuits by the mother if he performed the procedure; the judge would not guarantee it. The doctor, he says, "called me two hours into the protest and said, 'I am on your side. Unless [the father] hands me a signed and notarized consent form from the mother [I won't circumcise Chase].'"

Friedman said his group disputes the supposed health benefits of circumcision.


Last-ditch protests in fight over Florida boy's circumcision

By the Associated Press

Washington Post

February 23, 2015

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/last-ditch-protests-in-fight-over-florida-boys-circumcision/2015/02/23/06eee5b4-bb9c-11e4-9dfb-03366e719af8_story.html

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — An estranged Florida couple’s yearslong fight over whether to circumcise their son appeared near an end Monday with the father attempting to schedule the procedure amid last-minute legal maneuvers and promises of protests.

In a court document, Dennis Nebus, the father of the 4-year-old boy, said he was attempting to arrange the surgery for Tuesday. That prompted a new round of filings by the mother, Heather Hironimus, and promises of demonstrations by anti-circumcision activists, who have made the case a rallying cry against a practice they say is barbaric.

Hironimus and Nebus had a six-month relationship that resulted in the birth of a boy named Chase. Nebus sued to prove his paternity and get partial custody of the boy and the couple whittled out a parenting plan in which both agreed to the child’s circumcision. When it came time to schedule the procedure, though, the mother resisted, saying she had researched the subject further and no longer wanted it done. The matter wound its way through circuit court, which ruled in Nebus’ favor, then to a state appeals court, which upheld the lower court’s ruling.

The mother filed an emergency motion Wednesday seeking to bar the circumcision from proceeding. A judge denied it, but ordered a hearing via phone with both parents. Nebus filed an emergency motion Friday saying Hironimus still refuses to give written consent to the circumcision, which doctors may require.

“The mother has done everything within her power to thwart this court’s order and to try to see to it that no physician will perform a circumcision,” the father argued in one filing.

Attorneys for Hironimus, of Boynton Beach, and Nebus, of Boca Raton, did not return calls seeking comment. Both sides entered an agreement in December to not talk to the press.

The father has called circumcision “just the normal thing to do.” The mother said the risks make it “not worth it.”

Though circumcision rates have fallen in the U.S., a majority of boys still undergo the removal of their foreskin. A 2013 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found 58.3 percent of newborn boys were circumcised in 2010, down from 64.5 percent in 1979. (The data excluded babies who were circumcised after leaving the hospital.) Meantime, an anti-circumcision movement of so-called “intactivists” has grown and they have made this case their cause celebre.

In December, the CDC released a draft of long-awaited federal guidelines on circumcision, stopping short of telling parents they should choose the procedure, but saying medical evidence shows benefits clearly outweigh risks. It can lower a male’s risk of sexually transmitted diseases, penile cancer and even urinary tract infections, the CDC said, potential benefits of which the protesters expressed serious doubt.

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — An estranged Florida couple’s yearslong fight over whether to circumcise their son appeared near an end Monday with the father attempting to schedule the procedure amid last-minute legal maneuvers and promises of protests.

In a court document, Dennis Nebus, the father of the 4-year-old boy, said he was attempting to arrange the surgery for Tuesday. That prompted a new round of filings by the mother, Heather Hironimus, and promises of demonstrations by anti-circumcision activists, who have made the case a rallying cry against a practice they say is barbaric.

Hironimus and Nebus had a six-month relationship that resulted in the birth of a boy named Chase. Nebus sued to prove his paternity and get partial custody of the boy and the couple whittled out a parenting plan in which both agreed to the child’s circumcision. When it came time to schedule the procedure, though, the mother resisted, saying she had researched the subject further and no longer wanted it done. The matter wound its way through circuit court, which ruled in Nebus’ favor, then to a state appeals court, which upheld the lower court’s ruling.

The mother filed an emergency motion Wednesday seeking to bar the circumcision from proceeding. A judge denied it, but ordered a hearing via phone with both parents. Nebus filed an emergency motion Friday saying Hironimus still refuses to give written consent to the circumcision, which doctors may require.

“The mother has done everything within her power to thwart this court’s order and to try to see to it that no physician will perform a circumcision,” the father argued in one filing.

Attorneys for Hironimus, of Boynton Beach, and Nebus, of Boca Raton, did not return calls seeking comment. Both sides entered an agreement in December to not talk to the press.

The father has called circumcision “just the normal thing to do.” The mother said the risks make it “not worth it.”

Though circumcision rates have fallen in the U.S., a majority of boys still undergo the removal of their foreskin. A 2013 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found 58.3 percent of newborn boys were circumcised in 2010, down from 64.5 percent in 1979. (The data excluded babies who were circumcised after leaving the hospital.) Meantime, an anti-circumcision movement of so-called “intactivists” has grown and they have made this case their cause celebre.

In December, the CDC released a draft of long-awaited federal guidelines on circumcision, stopping short of telling parents they should choose the procedure, but saying medical evidence shows benefits clearly outweigh risks. It can lower a male’s risk of sexually transmitted diseases, penile cancer and even urinary tract infections, the CDC said, potential benefits of which the protesters expressed serious doubt.

 

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