Friday, May 16, 2014

Comment on Can a court stop a circumcision? by Mary Elizabeth Williams

Mary,
I appreciate your reporting as it has been more accurate than most of the other articles that I have seen so far, most of which omitted mentioning the mother's fear of death due to the general anesthesia.
I disagree with your assessment that her fear is "a little exaggerated". While the risk of death is low, it's not non-existent. In 2011, the same year that they signed the original agreement, a Brooklyn toddler, Jamaal Coleson died as a consequence of anesthesia used during his circumcision. 
Children have also died from the anesthesia during other procedures, such as wisdom teeth removal (Jenny Olenick), tonsillectomies (Jahi McMath), etc. Every time there is general anesthesia there is a risk implied.
Perhaps the mother has looked more into the existing risks of the procedure since the original agreement and this has led her to be more cautious. 
Courts should have the best interest of the child as a priority, even over existing agreements. The body of a child is not parental property.
An agreement between two parties over the body of an adult third party, or the body of a female minor, would not be valid. But that such agreement over the body of a male minor can be "enforceable" seems ridiculous. Particularly when this is a child who is already aware of his body.
I just can't imagine how the father will prepare the child for the procedure, the horror that will come to the child when he understands what they are going to do.
Finally the question shouldn't be whether a court can stop a circumcision, but whether a court is not overstepping its boundaries in forcing a circumcision.
You will remember a similar case in Israel, where a rabbinical court tried to force a mother to circumcise her 1 year old son as part of divorce proceedings. The ruling is currently going to the supreme court. There is also a legal precedent in the United States, Boldt vs. Boldt, where the courts protected a child's right to decide against his father's wish that he would be circumcised.

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