A federal judge heard arguments in an emergency hearing on the circumcision battle between Heather Hironimus and Dennis Nebus, her husband from whom she is separated. On Monday, U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra withheld from ruling on the case but did order Nebus to not have the child undergo circumcision without ten days' notice to the court. Hironimus, meanwhile, who was arrested last week, remains in jail.
Hironimus, 31, and her son had vanished following an ongoing dispute with Nebus over whether the child should be circumcised. Prior to their separation, the couple had agreed that Nebus would pay for and schedule the child's circumcision. But over time, Hironimus changed her mind and has been arguing that there is no medical reason for her son, who is now 4 years old, to be circumcised.
In March, Judge Jeffrey Dana Gillen of the 15th judicial district in Palm Beach County had ordered Hironimus to appear in court and to bring the child with her or face contempt-of-court charges. When Hironimus and her child remained in hiding, Gillen ordered a warrant for her arrest.
Hironimus and the child went missing since their last scheduled doctor's visit on February 19. Nebus testified at a hearing in March that he visited the home of the mother to take the boy for his prearranged visiting time and found no one home. The car was also gone, and when he tried calling Hironimus, he said the phone was turned off.
Hironimus was not present during the hearing, and Gillen ordered that she and the child report to court the following day by 2 p.m.
When she failed to show, Gillen put out a warrant for her arrest.
Last Friday, she was found and arrested by BSO.
The case has made headlines, been the cause of much debate on the internet, and even caught the attention of actor Russell Crowe. Anticircumcision activists — sometimes called "intactivists" — have been extremely vocal about the case and have befriended Hironimus on Facebook and social media. They've also launched several websites with the boy's name.
In March, Gillen had also found Hironimus in contempt of court for allowing the use of the boy's likeness on the internet and said that Hironimus is responsible for Nebus' attorney fees. Gillen reserved ruling on how much that fee is.
In April, Hironimus filed a lawsuit in federal court claiming circumcising her son would violate the boy's constitutional rights. Gillen and Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw are named in the suit.
Hironimus' attorney, Thomas Hunker, had filed a motion for a restraining order against Nebus, saying that circumcision “will permanently and irreversibly mutilate” their son. Hunker also argued that the procedure carries many risks, including “permanent brain damage or death."
As has been the case since this issue has gone public, Monday's hearing had anticircumcision protesters picketing outside the courthouse in Palm Beach.