Category Archives: Human Rights

Circumcision in Florida, arrest if you do, arrest if you don’t

We have recently mentioned the case of a South Florida mother who is hiding in a domestic violence shelter to protect her 4 year old son from a judge mandated circumcision, over a parental agreement signed during the first year of life of her child.

As reported by the Sun Sentinel on March 10th, in spite of knowing that the child has no medical need for circumcision, Judge Jeffrey Dana Gillen “mentioned [the] benefits [...], and called the procedure “very, very safe.”

Judge Gillen

“Circumcision is very, very safe” ~ Judge Jeffrey Dana Gillen

The Sun Sentinel also reports that Judge Gillen said “I will allow her to avoid incarceration or get out of jail if she signs the consent to the procedure” .

Just a few days later, March 25, another Floridian mother, this one in Seminole County, did subject her baby to a “routine procedure” and allowed the baby to bleed for hours before seeking help (the specific procedure is not named but there is no doubt about what routine procedure can cause a male baby to bleed from his genitals).

After obtaining help, the mother was asked to follow up the next day, but she failed to show up. Did she have any reasons to trust the doctors after almost losing her baby?

The mother was arrested on charges of child neglect.

There is no doubt that her child was in danger of dying. However, was she expected to act differently?

We looked at a few discharge instructions sheets. One from Seattle Children’s Hospital indicates: “If bleeding occurs, apply constant, gentle pressure with a gauze pad to the penis for five minutes” and instructs to call the doctor when there is “Bleeding that cannot be stopped after five minutes of pressure has been applied”.

The University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital instructs that “The penis will swell a little, or it may bleed a little around the incision” and to call the health provider if there is “Bleeding that isn’t stopped by applying gentle pressure

One from Memorial Childbirth Center, from the Beacon Health System, indicates that “The most common complication is bleeding. In most cases bleeding is controlled by direct pressure. Use a gauze wrap and squeeze the area of bleeding for three minutes. If bleeding stops, leave the gauze in place. If it doesn’t stop, apply pressure again. In cases of continued fresh bleeding, please call the baby’s doctor for further instructions“.

Well, that’s the procedure that Judge Gillen calls “very, very safe“. Apparently one of the new risks of circumcision is that it can land you in jail, at least if you live in Florida. Now, according to the CDC, the risks for children over the age of 1 are 20 times greater than for neonates. So perhaps Judge Gillen should reconsider his own medical beliefs.

Diaper from a baby bleeding abnormally after circumcision

Diaper from a baby bleeding abnormally after circumcision

Florida: Nebus tries to prohibit Hironimus from using funds

Why a mother has to hide in a domestic violence shelter to protect her son from an unnecessary genital surgery?

Why is a father so obsessed with the idea of circumcising his child?

Why is a judge so culturally biased that he fails to see the child as a human being?

Will the court prohibit the mother from using funds collected by those who want to help her protect her child?

To donate to Chase’s Guardians (funds to help the legal case to protect Chase), go to: http://chasesguardians.org/

11084296_10153235363221388_4999400787128926774_n(1)

This is Dennis Nebus, a man who apparently has nothing else to do than to think how to get the foreskin of his child amputated.

nebusDennis, please think how your child feels hiding in a domestic violence shelter… because of you!

You may not realize it, but circumcision is act of violence. One that was committed on your body, and which you seem to think “it’s normal” to repeat on your child.

Dennis, there are far more important things to parenting than altering your child’s genitalia. All this time, all these emotions, all that money, could have been better used in bonding with your son, building a future for him.

There is still time to realize that this is a ridiculous fight over something that does not concern you. Over something that only concerns your child.

Man up! It’s not your body. Respect your child and respect his body.

#SavingChase

Judge Gillen says fears ‘irrelevant at this point’, but were they ever relevant?

According to Palm Beach Post

Heather Hironimus and her 4-year-old son have sought refuge at a domestic violence shelter in an undisclosed location, her attorney said. She fears for her son’s psychological well-being and wants an attorney appointed to represent him before he can have the operation the child’s father is pushing him to have, attorney Thomas Hunker said.

 Judge Jeffrey Gillen cut Hunker off, calling Hironimus’s fears and concerns irrelevant at this point.

Truth is, if you remember the beginning of the case, Judge Gillen has always considered Heather’s fears irrelevant. Let’s take a look at the ruling from last year, dated March 25th.

In this ruling it was said that Heather “asserted, in essence, that circumcision was not medically necessary and she did not want to have the parties’ son undergo requisite general anesthesia for fear of death. She expressed no other reason for now objecting to the procedure to which she’d already agreed in the parenting plan”

hh1

Following these paragraphs, there are some partially false and/or irrelevant arguments from the pediatrician acting as expert witness, Charles Flack, following which “the Court finds that there is no reason why the parties should not be held to the terms of their Agreed Parenting Plan”.

hh2

So, almost a year ago, Heather’s fears were summarily dismissed without response. And today, 350 days afterwards, the judge now says that her fears and concerns are “irrelevant at this point”.

Were they relevant a year ago Judge Gillen?

Is the life, well being and best interest of 4 year old Chase*, “irrelevant at this point”, Judge Gillen?

Did you forget that at the center of this controversy you don’t have a piece of property, nor a head of livestock, but a very alive and aware human being, Judge Gillen?

Would Judge Gillen say that no children have died during a circumcision due to the use of general anesthesia? It happened in Brooklyn just 4 years ago. Jamaal Coleson, 2 years old, died after a circumcision due to the improper use of anesthesia.

Circumcision can have negative psychological effects, and this is more noticeable in those circumcised as children or adolescents, as they can perceive the procedure as abuse, punishment, and loss of control over their own bodies. We also recommend reading the 1999 Preliminary Survey of men circumcised in infancy or childhood – originally published in the British Journal of Urology BJU.

Denial of harm caused by circumcision is a clear display of cultural bias for the procedure. Judge Gillen needs to reconsider his position on this topic.

* We will not stop using Chase’s name, as people need to remember that we are not talking about property but about a real human being whose human rights, preferences, body and health are at stake in the hands of Judge Gillen.

#SavingChase

Nebus vs Hironimus: Arrest warrant

Judge Jeffrey Dana Gillen has entered an order of attachment (arrest warrant) in the case of Dennis Nebus vs. Heather Hironimus, in the dispute over the unnecessary circumcision of a 4 year old child.

The circumstances have changed considerably since the time when Hironimus signed the parental agreement, stating that Nebus would schedule and pay for the circumcision. At that time, Chase was about 1 year of age. Nebus then did nothing for a while, and by the time he wanted to do something, Hironimus had been educated on the subject, realizing that she was not properly informed of what a circumcision entailed when she signed the agreement, and stated that she had changed her mind and did not want her son to undergo the procedure with the additional risk of general anesthesia.

How far does a mother have to go in order to protect her son from an unnecessary amputation of normal healthy genital tissue?

Why is Dennis Nebus so adamant about submitting his son to an unnecessary surgery?

nebus

Why does Judge Gillen fail to see Chase as a human being?

Judge Gillen has stated incomplete facts about circumcision during this trial.

Judge Gillen

What should we call two men who conspire to wound the body of a child?

Where do you go when your own government fails to protect you?

Doug Diekema, ethical excellence?

It has come to our attention that during the AAP meeting in last October, Dr. Douglas Diekema received the Bartholome Award for ethical excellence.

WHY????

Really?

Dr. Douglas DiekemaDoug Diekema is member of the 2012 AAP Task Force on circumcision. On an interview in 2012, prior to the release of the Policy Statement, Diekema dismissed bodily autonomy in a statement to the Broward Palm Beach New Times: “[Circumcision] does carry some risk and does involve the loss of the foreskin, which some men are angry about. But it does have medical benefit. Not everyone would trade that foreskin for that medical benefit. Parents ought to be the decisionmakers here. They should be fully informed.

Even more, a year after the release of the Policy Statement, during a debate with Steven Svoboda from Attorneys for the Rights of the Child, Diekema and fellow task force member Dr. Brady failed to describe any functions of the foreskin (Brady said “I don’t think anybody knows the function of the foreskin, nobody knows the function of the foreskin” – see page 8 of PDF file at the link), only to have the answer from a layman who has a foreskin. Of course their arrogance prevented them from listening to the young intact (“uncircumcised”) man.

But male cutting is not enough for Diekema, who in fact supported the failed 2010 AAP policy statement on “ritual genital cutting of female minors“. Diekema defended the “ritual nick” telling the Sydney Morning Herald that “[It] would remove no tissue, would not touch any significant organ but, rather [it] would be a small nick of the clitoral hood which is the equivalent of the male foreskin – nothing that would scar, nothing that would do damage

But external genitalia seems to be not enough for Mr. Diekema, who was part of the committee that gave clearance to the “Ashley treatment” in 2004, a treatment to stunt the growth of a severely disabled girl, remove her breast buds (so she wouldn’t grow breasts), remove her reproductive organs (hysterectomy, so she wouldn’t have menstruation) and removed her appendix (since they had her open already, why not?).  The Ashley treatment was later deemed to be illegal without a court order, but nobody was made responsible for it. Diekema’s partner in the committee, Daniel Gunther, committed suicide shortly afterwards for unknown reasons.

But apparently genitals of males and females are not enough. Diekema was a witness in support of an Oregon city couple whose adolescent son Neil died of renal disease without medical treatment, partially because they were part of a congregation that favors faith healing over medical treatment. Diekema said: “Neil had a faith, and his faith was important to him, I don’t know if it determined his decision.”

And perhaps this is part of the key to understanding Diekema. Religion. As Diekema himself said in an interview: “one of the skills I’ve had to learn is that if I do arrive at a decision about what I think is the right thing to do and my reasons for believing that are related to my religious beliefs, I have to be able to craft secular arguments to support that view. The real art of bioethics is convincing other people why something is right or something is wrong and why something shouldn’t be done or should be done“.

Is this really a man whose ethical values should be celebrated? Is this a man who speaks for children, who protects children? Is he dedicated “to the health of all children“, as the motto of the AAP says? We believe this man to be dangerous and an embarrassment to modern medicine, someone who belongs in the 19th Century, not in the 21st Century.

More data on CircLeaks

Dr Diekema (in blue shirt) lowers his eyes after seeing the “bloodstained” protesters outside the Orlando convention center in October of 2013. This happened just a few weeks after his embarrassing defeat in the debate against Steven Svoboda and the Attorneys for the Rights of the Child.

Baby dies after circumcision – Social networks

We mentioned a while ago that “Activists monitoring social networks often encounter individual cases of complications that usually go unreported“.

A new tragic case will likely be recorded as death caused by ex-sanguination (loss of blood) or systemic failure, while failing to mention that the blood was lost through an intentional wound on the body (circumcision).

The activist who shared the screenshots below, wrote: “On December 14th, 2014, a mother gave birth to her son via emergency c-section. From what I was told the mother and baby were doing fine after the delivery. On December 17th, 2014, the child was circumcised. I do not know the reasoning for the circumcision but I do know they were first time parents. A few hours later the child was pronounced dead. The parents were told the baby suffered massive blood loss but that an autopsy must be performed before the cause of death would be official“.

Rest in peace sweet baby. The names were blacked out by the activist who shared this, in order to protect the privacy of the family.

10846410_739300222814484_8278755529326877739_n
As it always happens, some people gets heated about these senseless tragedies, and some people criticize those who share these kinds of information during times of loss for the families, for what they perceive as bashing the families. But if this information was not shared, how would you know? Would you expect to hear this from the AAP? From the CDC? They won’t tell you.

The AAP in the Technical Report on circumcision, August 27 to 2012, “The majority of severe or even catastrophic injuries are so infrequent as to be reported as case reports (and were therefore excluded from this literature review).” (see page 20 of Technical Report)

It’s not the families’ fault. Yes, they signed a consent form, but quite often they were pressured by doctors, nurses, family, society, they were kept ignorant of the risks, they were told that “the benefits outweigh the risks“, most likely the dads are circumcised, who can think that anything can go wrong during a circumcision?

So sad that lives of babies can be “excluded” for being just “case reports”.

Doug Diekema, Susan Blank, Michael Brady, Ellen Buerk, Waldemar Carlo, Andrew Freeman, Lynne Maxwell, Steven Wegner, this is the truth that you withhold from the American public. Your hands are tainted with babies’ blood. The American public will remember you.

 

The Guardian censors the discussion of circumcision

As reported by inside Man, the Guardian, in an article about FGM, warned that comments about male circumcision would be removed by moderators because “although the two issues are superficially related the effects and cultural practices/significance are very, very different”.

An individual mention in the article says, of the female activist: “She is giving a voice to those who would otherwise be silenced“. The Guardian, however, will silence those who speak for the rights of male children.

The article states: “Religious dogma is one of the toughest challenges campaigners face in the Gambia.” From our experience, religious dogma is also one of the toughest challenges in the fight against genital mutilation… of boys. See the reaction of the Anti Defamation League when San Francisco was looking to vote to age restrict circumcision in the city, or the reaction of even the highest leaders of Israel when the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe defined circumcision as a procedure that violates the rights of children to physical integrity.

The Guardian may like to see these topics remain separate debates, but they are not. They are not about males or females, they are about children’s rights. When adults raise the blade, children are powerless to defend themselves.

Shame on those who would silence those who dare speak against damaging traditions and rituals affecting the health, well-being and happiness of children.

guardian

Moderator warning commenters that comments regarding male circumcision would be deleted

Dr. Charles E. Flack – the expert witness in the case of Chase

Important: the fundraiser page moved to http://www.savingchase.org

The hearings for the case of Nibus vs. Hironimus took place between March of 2014 to May of 2014. During these hearings, Pediatric Urologist Charles Flack “testified by telephone upon agreement of the parties’ lawyers even though no notary was present with him to verify the Court’s administration of the oath“.

Dr Charles E. Flack

Dr Charles E. Flack
Office Location
10301 Hagen Ranch Rd
Suite C130
Boynton Beach, FL 33437
Contact
Phone: (561) 736-7313
Fax: (561) 736-2309

According to inside sources, Dr. Flack could be the pediatric urologist of choice by the father to perform the circumcision. If that is the case, it must be noted that there would be a conflict of interests as Dr. Flack would stand to profit from a ruling in favor of the father (and from performing an unnecessary surgery on a minor).

According to the order of May 9th, “while Dr. Flack did opine that the procedure was not medically necessary, significantly, he advised the Court and the parties that penile cancer occurs only in uncircumcised males and uncircumcised males have a higher risk of HIV infection than circumcised males. He further testified that the procedure last only 17 minutes and patients experience little post-operative discomfort and few recovery problems. Finally, he testified that performing the procedure on boys up to 10 years of age is medically acceptable, the concern being that with older boys who have reached puberty, an erection could cause tears in the sutures.

Court order from May 2014

Court order from May 2014

Well, let’s see if Dr. Flack’s assertions are supported by current standards of medicine (whether we agree with them or not).

Penile Cancer

Dr Flack: “penile cancer occurs only in uncircumcised male

AAP: “A history of phimosis alone confers a significantly elevated risk of invasive cancer (OR: 11.4). In fact, in men with an intact prepuce and no phimosis, there is a decreased risk of invasive penile cancer (OR: 0.5). When excluding phimosis, the risk disappears [...] The clinical value of the modest risk reduction from circumcision for a rare cancer is difficult to measure against the potential for complications from the procedure.” (AAP Technical Report on Circumcision from August 27th of 2012)

So, penile cancer is a rare disease and it occurs mostly on old men. It is usually associated with HPV and with phimosis during adulthood. HPV infection can occur in any sexually active individual. Adult phimosis can often be treated without circumcision. Penile cancer DOES, in fact, occur on circumcised men.

It would make more sense from a social health point of view to remove the breast buds of girls to reduce the risk of breast cancer, than removing the foreskin as a way to prevent penile cancer.

HIV

Dr Flack: “uncircumcised males have a higher risk of HIV infection

AAP: “40% to 60% for male circumcision in reducing the risk of HIV acquisition among heterosexual males in areas with high HIV prevalence due to heterosexual transmission (ie, Africa). [...] more than 619 000 people in the United States have died of AIDS since the epidemic began.38 In the United States, HIV/AIDS predominantly affects men who have sex with men (MSM), who account for almost two-thirds (61%) of all new infections. Heterosexual exposure accounts for 27% of new HIV infections, and injection drug use accounts for 9% of new HIV cases. In other parts of the world (eg, Africa), heterosexual transmission is far more common.”(AAP Technical Report on Circumcision from August 27th of 2012)

Notice that the text of the ruling does not mention that this “protective effect” is limited to “heterosexual males in areas with high HIV prevalence due to heterosexual transmission”. Given the high rates of circumcision in the United States and the prevalence of the American epidemic of HIV on MSM (men who have sex with men), most of those people who died from AIDS would have been circumcised males.

In 2009, Dr. Ronald Gray, one of the main researchers of circumcision and HIV in Africa and author of some of the studies that found this “consistent” protective effect, said:

“If you were to ask me, should the U.S. be promoting circumcision, my answer would be, ‘no,’ What I do think ought to be the policy is that parents should be informed about the potential protective effects” NYTimes

Studies have failed to find such “protective effect” in the United States due to the different characteristics of the epidemic. Reuters

Complications

Dr. Flack: “patients experience little post-operative discomfort and few recovery problems

AAP: “The true incidence of complications after newborn circumcision is unknown, in part due to differing definitions of “complication” and differing standards for determining the timing of when a complication has occurred (ie, early or late). Adding to the confusion is the comingling of “early” complications, such as bleeding or infection, with “late” complications such as adhesions and meatal stenosis.” (AAP Technical Report on Circumcision from August 27th of 2012)

CDC’s Charbel El Bcheraoui:  the risk of experiencing complications was 20 times higher for boys ages 1 to 9 years. (May 2013)

For an idea of what the complications can be and the different age ranges, see this list at Circleaks and this other list for 2013, at Circwatch.

James R. Robertson, Ed.D., studied the effects of circumcision during childhood. He concluded: “In summary, the 19 letters from men circumcised between ages three and six reveal emotional results in conformity with predicted psychoanalytic consequences for circumcision performed during the phallic stage. These 19 men characteristically feel mutilated, diminished and incomplete. They are preoccupied, if not fixated, with their lost foreskins. They show anger at having been denied the right to choose. When they have attempted to discuss their feelings, they tend to have been met with ridicule, rejection and amusement.” (1989)

Erections

Dr. Flack: “performing the procedure on boys up to 10 years of age is medically acceptable, the concern being that with older boys who have reached puberty, an erection could cause tears in the sutures

NewKidsCenter.com: “Erection is common among infants and toddlers. (…) Often early erections come for no reason at all (…) Erection could also mean that the boy’s bladder is full and he ‘needs to pee’.”

AAP: An old guideline for parents on care of the uncircumcised penis used to say: “The foreskin may retract spontaneously with erections which occur normally from birth on and even occur in fetal life.” This information is no longer available in the current AAP page on care for the uncircumcised penis.

So, evidently, erections can occur at any age and do not make a difference as to whether a male can be circumcised or not. Over a million baby boys are circumcised in the U.S. every year in spite of erections being also present in neonates.

This is not a valid reason to perform the operation before the patient has the age to consent, but perhaps the reason for this artificial age is the legal precedent of Boldt vs. Boldt, in Oregon, which started when a divorced father decided to convert to Judaism and have his (9 year old) son convert and get circumcised, which the child refused. While the process took several years, the court ruled that a parent could not compel a child to get circumcised against his will.

Conclusion

All the points quoted by the Court from Dr. Flack’s testimony are either partially false, or irrelevant. The only fully true statement is that “the procedure was not medically necessary“.

Dr. Flack may have a conflict of interest in his testimony if he is the doctor that the father is depending on to perform the circumcision, and as the person that stands directly to gain financially from a favorable outcome for the boy’s father, he has incentive to withhold information that could dissuade the judge from ruling in the father’s favor. He may even be inclined to misrepresent, even present false information. In essence, his testimony in court may have been no more than a shameless self-advert.

Were Dr. Flack to perform a circumcision on Chase, not only would he have given a misleading, partially false testimony in Court, but he would also be profiting from the results of his testimony and from causing bodily and emotional harm to a child.