Protesters at Doctor's Office Hope to Stop 4-Year-Old From Being Circumcised
Chase has been at the center of a long court battle between his parents over whether he should be circumcised.
Photo by Tabatha Mudra
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."
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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.
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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.
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