Circumcision case settled, parents quiet on details

News  Courier-News (Bridgewater, New Jersey). Thursday, 25 January 2001.

Crissa Shoemaker

The divorcing parents battling over whether their 3-year-old son should be circumcised reached an agreement Wednesday to keep the case out of court and out of the public eye.

As part of the out-of-court settlement, the application by Matthew Price's mother, Jennifer, of Clinton, seeking the surgery was withdrawn and the records concerning the circumcision and Matthew's health care were closed.

But the parties remained tight-lipped about whether the surgery would be performed, saying only they were happy the case was over and they believed the agreement was in Matthew's best interests.

Both parties demonstrated a largeness of spirit in doing what was clearly in Matthew's best interest, notwithstanding any particular individual positions that they might have, said Edward J. O'Donnell, the court-appointed attorney representing Matthew.

Those individual positions were the subject of a monthslong court battle that went all the way to the state  External link Supreme Court.

In August, state Superior Court Judge Paul Armstrong granted Mrs. Price's application that the surgery be performed, taking into account reports by two pediatricians that said the circumcision would alleviate problems Matthew had experienced at least twice.

But Jim Price, of Raritan Borough, vehemently and publicly opposed the surgery, saying the inflammation Matthew experienced was caused by improper treatment, and circumcision would be unnecessary and harmful.

Mr. Price appealed Armstrong's ruling, and the state Supreme Court sent the case back to the judge to hold a hearing on whether the surgery was medically necessary. That hearing was slated to start Tuesday and continue Wednesday, but was postponed due to the settlement talks, which began Friday.

Mr. Price had said he would continue to appeal if the judge allowed the surgery to go forward after the hearing, but Tuesday said he couldn't comment on what the final outcome would be, only that he was ecstatic.

I'm just happy that everything's over and that my son is a wonderful kid, he said. We all won, because we don't have to carry this fight forward.

A joint statement released by Matthew's parents said the two considered the recommendations of Matthew's treating physicians and the medical experts who examined him over the months leading to the hearing.

It is our mutual desire that this private family decision remain confidential so that our son's privacy rights are accorded due respect, the statement read. We are certain that our decision will promote Matthew's best interests and welfare.

Mr. Price's attorney, Julie Marino, and Mrs. Price's attorney, Ronald Heymann, ushered their clients out of the  External link courthouse in Somerville on Tuesday morning without commenting. Neither attorney returned calls seeking comment.

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