The circumcision of a four-year-old boy, Chase Nebus-Hironimus, which has been at the center of a national debate, is scheduled for Tuesday, February 24. Supporters have begun a campaign targeting Dr. Subhash Puranik – the would-be surgeon – and are due to protest outside of his office on Monday, in Plantation, FL.
“I am protesting because I believe that Chase, as well as all boys, should have the right to make this decision for themselves, ” says Jenn Cote of Pembroke Pines, FL, a co-director of South Florida Intactivists Unite and organizer of the protest. Her group has been organizing protests in support of Chase and his mother since May 2014.
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“Any doctor who can knowingly violate a child’s body by performing non-therapeutic surgery is a quack and deserves to lose his license, ” says Colleen Cochran of Stuart, FL, member of South Florida Intactivists Unite. “Dr. Puranik has obviously lost sight of the most important tenet of medicine: First, do no harm.”
The battle over the boy’s foreskin has been going on for years. When the boy was just one year old, the his separated parents signed a contract which included an agreement for the boy’s father to schedule and pay for the circumcision in a timely manner.
The procedure, however, was never done and the matter was dropped after the boy’s mother, Heather Hironimus, decided not to go ahead with it. But the boy’s father, Dennis Nebus, raised the circumcision issue again, according to protesters to “spite the mother.”
The family court ruled in Nebus’ favor in May 2014, giving permission for the circumcision to be scheduled. Hironimus went through months of court proceedings to try and stop the circumcision, but in November 2014 her appeal was denied and she reached a legal dead end.
In the meantime, the father took the boy to pediatric urologist Dr. Charles Flack in Boynton Beach, FL, who said the boy was healthy and didn’t need a circumcision after examination. However, Dr. Flack did testify in the Florida court alleging that circumcision had health benefits, even though he wouldn’t circumcise his own son in a similar situation because of the risks of surgery.
“If he’s not having any problems, I wouldn’t want to bear that burden if, God forbid, something happened, ” said Dr. Flack during a phone call to the court. Dr. Flack was the target of a protest last January but told protest organizer Jonathan Friedman by phone that he would not perform the surgery on Chase even with a court order since the mother doesn’t consent.
“Most people are outraged to learn that a doctor and a court official conspired to order the circumcision of a healthy and articulate four-year-old boy against his and his mother’s wishes, ” says Friedman, who has been raising awareness about the case since May 2014. “People stopped by our protest last month and expressed anger and disbelief that such a situation could even happen here in America. Where did a respect for law, ethics and medicine go?”
Last week’s pre-op appointment was scheduled without the mother’s knowledge, though she learned about it in time to be present. Pre-op appointments are typically scheduled 1-2 weeks prior to surgery. The mother’s attorney filed an urgent motion for injunctive relief and contempt to try to prevent Tuesday’s surgery, but the court has yet to grant their request.