According to the Associated Press, a woman in Florida was arrested on Thursday for contempt of court after fleeing with her son in an effort to prevent the father from having him circumcised. She vanished three months ago, and her lawyer claimed the kid, Chase, was "scared to death" of having his foreskin removed.
The woman, Heather Hironimus, has become a symbol for the anti-circumcision "intactivist" movement. One Twitter account named "FamilyPenis" has been using hashtags like #SaveChase, and #StopChildAbuse.
The tweets of other activists, styled as headlines like "Mother Held For Preventing Son's Circumcision," leave out the fact that Hironimus signed an agreement during pregnancy to have her child circumcised. She later changed her mind, and has been embroiled in a conflict with the father, Dennis Nebus, ever since.
Nebus has won in court repeatedly. But no doctor has yet agreed to perform Chase's disputed circumcision. According to the AP, doctors even considering performing the procedure have received complaints from intactivists.
The Intactivists' website paints a horrifying picture of circumcision:
Surgical removal of the foreskin involves immobilizing the baby by strapping him face-up onto a molded plastic board. In one common method, the doctor then inserts a metal instrument under the foreskin to forcibly separate it from the glans, slits the foreskin, and inserts a circumcision device. The foreskin is crushed and then cut off. The amount of skin removed in a typical infant circumcision is the equivalent of 15 square inches in an adult male.
According to Matt Sedensky who has been following the story for the Associated Press, vocal activists like M. Thomas Frederiksen have made their voices heard on behalf of Hironimus. Frederiksen has written at length on the issue, calling himself "a victim of this vile practice," and saying that those who are circumcised as children "have been forced to live our whole lives with the preferences of another permanently carved into our genitals."
Related: Check out our documentary about penises in Florida:
Before Hironimus was arrested, the story already had a long legal history. In addition to the initial agreement, Nebus initially sued for partial custody, which involved proving his paternity, and the resulting custody agreement involved decisions about Chase's last name, who he's allowed to call "mommy" and "daddy," and, fatefully, whether he would be allowed to have a foreskin.
The Telegraph quoted Nebus as saying he believes circumcision is "just the normal thing to do."
Hironimus, on the other hand, said "To me, it's not worth it to put my son's life at risk for a cosmetic procedure," before they agreed to a gag order in December of last year.
Then earlier this week, when Hironimus failed to appear in court, Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Jeffrey Gillen issued an arrest warrant for her and turned down a stack of requests from her legal team seeking a mental evaluation for Chase, along with an independent guardian to speak for his needs in court.
According to the Facebook page of The WHOLE Network, an intactivist group, after her arrest on Thursday, Hironimus's lawyer, Tom Hunker, requested a restraining order that would require everyone involved in the case to not go circumcising chase before the case can be resolved.
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