The topic of non-consensual circumcision has routinely made the nightly news as the fate of a four-year-old boy and his intact penis have been the center of attention of news coverage in America and beyond.
As you know, I am a staunch body integrity activist, and in the situation of circumcision, we activists who fight to protect boys and girls from non-consensual circumcision are called intactivists. I have written about circumcision several times on this blog, and I’ve written about this case once before. I’ve even done a radio episode on the topic of male circumcision, and I’ve answered a reader’s question via my YouTube channel regarding the effects of male circumcision on women. But I was waiting to write more about this court case in the hopes that the final verdict would recognize the boy’s right to body autonomy and self-determination. Unfortunately, the result of this case is heartbreaking.
The case involves Chase, a boy caught in the middle of a battle between his two parents, Heather Hironimus and Dennis Nebus. The parents both originally agreed to the circumcision when Chase was an infant, but the mother, Hironimus, changed her mind. Fast forward past a long court battle and skipping town to avoid having the procedure done on Chase, Hironimus has finally given her consent to the unnecessary body mutilation of her son, which shocked and saddened intactivists around the world.
Heather Hironimus has been a heroine to intactivists who have been following the case, nicknamed in social media as #SavingChase. Her motherly instincts to protect her child in full alert, she fled with Chase, staying on the run to prevent her son from undergoing a cosmetic medical procedure to amputate a perfectly normal, healthy, and functionally important part of his penis. There is absolutely no reason for this (or any) circumcision to be performed. Hironimus turned herself in and was jailed May 14, 2015.
Today, she signed the “consent” form to have Chase circumcised, and by “consent”, I mean the court-coerced agreement to have her son’s sexual anatomy harmed in exchange for her freedom. If a woman had “sex” with a man because the alternative was bodily harm to her child, that is not actual “consent” — we would still call that rape. The justice system has ordered the sexual assault on a four-year-old boy, who has actually verbalized his terror at having the procedure done to his body. That means, the owner of the penis has said, “No.” Yet the court has ordered him raped anyway.
Even though Hironimus signed the “consent” to have her son mutilated, The Sun Sentinel reports Hironimus’ legal battles are not over:
Now, she’s facing a criminal charge that carries a maximum punishment of five years in state prison if convicted…. She is charged with interference of custody, a third-degree felony, from her months of hiding with the boy in a Broward County domestic violence shelter.
There is absolutely no reason to violate any baby boy’s (or girl’s) right to body autonomy and self-determination. Every child has a basic human right to decide what happens to his or her body. The lies about circumcision being better or safer are perpetuated here in the United States by medical companies and organizations that profit financially from the sale of foreskins to cosmetic companies and biotech labs.
Female circumcision is now illegal in the United States, and the same lies about removing a boy’s foreskin being safer, healthier, and looking better were all used in the propaganda to justify female genital mutilation in days gone by. In fact, the male foreskin has at least 16 known functions to protect the penis and urinary tract, and it contains cells that prevent bacterial infections and the spread of viruses. But actual science does not seem to matter when a societal and cultural “tradition” is determined to have its way.
And if you want to get into the religious argument, this boy is an American citizen, which means he has a First Amendment right to freedom from religion. Chase and his body have been used in a tug-of-war between two parents who couldn’t get their act together — I am not even sure why the father has gone to this length to have his son mutilated. At least the mother was trying to save the boy an unnecessary medical procedure that no one should be able to order except Chase himself. And Chase HAS verbalized that he does NOT want part of his penis amputated. What about the doctor who is to perform the abhorrent procedure? The Hippocratic Oath instructs to “first do no harm”. Will the doctor heed that oath when Chase is brought in kicking and screaming, “NO!”, to the procedure to which he has not consented?
As any feminist knows, body integrity and the right to choose what happens to your body is a basic human right. If you want your penile or clitoral foreskin removed, you should have the choice to do that when you are 18+. No one should have the authority to force you to have unnecessary, medically unfounded, cosmetic surgical changes to your body that will have lasting effects physically, sexually, emotionally, and psychologically. Your body. Your choice.
In my opinion, the father, this judge, and the doctor will all be guilty of sexually assaulting a minor. And they should go to prison, not the mother.