A mother in the US has been imprisoned for refusing to get her son circumcised.
Florida mother Heather Hironimus ran away with her four-year-old son because she didn’t agree with his father’s request to her their son circumcised. Now, the bitter legal dispute has landed her in jail.
Hironimus, 31, signed an agreement to circumcise her son Chase in 2012 when he was a baby, but later changed her mind about the procedure.
When Chase’s father Dennis Nebus insisted on the procedure, a lengthy legal battle ensued — and in May 2014, a Palm Beach court made an order for Chase to be circumcised, the Sun Sentinel reports.
Hironimus fled with Chase for nearly three months, going into hiding in a domestic violence shelter.
But a circuit judge signed an arrest warrant March 10 after Hironimus did not show up to hand over the boy to his father in court, as a custody-sharing agreement required, Fairfax Media reports.
The mother was ultimately arrested by police in Florida earlier this month.
Hironimus currently remains in Broward County jail, where she is being held without bail on a number of charges, including interference with custody and writ of bodily attachment. According to Nine News, a family court order effectively says she will remain behind bars until she signs a form consenting to circumcision.
The sensational case has drawn media attention across the globe, with the hashtags #FreeHeather and #SaveChase taking off on Twitter and a group calling itself Chase’s Guardians even crowdfunding more than US$50,000 to help may Mr Hironimus’ legal fees.
Renowned British athiest Richard Dawkins even weighed in on the controversial case, tweeting: “Mother jailed for refusing to have her 4-yr-old son circumcised. WHAT? Can the world get any madder than this?”
In April, Hironimus sought to make a constitutional case in the US Federal Court, with her lawyer Thomas Hunker writing to the judge:
“What is truly irrational is Nebus’ relentless effort to physically and emotionally scar his son by imposing circumcision upon him … When there is no religious purpose and no medical necessity and the child has expressed that he does not want it.”
Mr Hunker also said Chase was “terrified” about the procedure.
But today, Hironimus has withdrawn her federal lawsuit, CBS News reports.
The director of anti-circumcision group Intact America told the Sun Sentinel she was “very disappointed” the lawsuit was abandoned.
“What we hope for now is that the father will have compassion for his young son, and not compound the trauma of the past few months with the trauma of a medically unnecessary surgery,” the director, Georganne Chapin, told the Sun Sentinel.
It is still not clear when the circumcision might be scheduled or for how long Hironimus must remain in custody, although the website www.savingchase.org said the boy’s father has agreed to give 10 days’ notice before any circumcision.
Chase is currently in the care of his father, according to news.com.au.
Do you have a news tip? Email [email protected]