BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. — An estranged Florida couple's fight over whether to circumcise their son has become a rallying cry for those who denounce the procedure as barbaric.
The dispute between Heather Hironimus, the mother opposing circumcision, and Dennis Nebus, the father favoring it, has sparked a prolonged court battle, protests and the rapt attention of a movement of self-proclaimed "intactivists."
Judges have ruled in favor of the father, meaning the surgery is likely to happen, but the possible closure of the legal chapter has done little to mute the case's most passionate followers. Though many still choose to remove their sons' foreskins at the suggestion of a doctor, for religious or cultural reasons, or out of habit, opponents have been bolstered by the overall waning popularity of circumcision, and the fact this fight has gone on so long the boy at its center is now 4 years old.
"I couldn't speak when I was cut, but I can speak now," said Thomas Frederiksen, a 39-year-old machinist who traveled from Orlando to protest, wearing a red beret and "I (Heart) My Foreskin" T-shirt and speaking breathlessly about the issue.
Volumes of court filings tell the story: Hironimus and Nebus had a six-month relationship that resulted in a pregnancy, the birth of a boy named Chase, and a fight over nearly everything since. Nebus sued to prove his paternity and to get partial custody of the boy and the couple whittled out a parenting plan outlining everything from his surname to his legal address, to whom he calls mommy or daddy and, notably, what becomes of his penis.
9 And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations.
10 This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised.
11 And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you.