Judge takes father's side in circumcision feud

News  Chicago Sun-Times. Tuesday, 24 October 2006.

Carla K. Johnson

Judge protects child's legal right to bodily integrity

A Cook County judge has sided with a divorced father who did not want his 9-year-old son circumcised, in a case that has drawn attention from groups opposed to the medical procedure.

Circuit Judge Jordan Kaplan's ruling, issued Tuesday, said the boy can decide for himself when he turns 18. Until then, there will be no circumcision, a surgery that removes the foreskin of the penis.

The boy's parents had feuded over the procedure in court. The couple's 2003 divorce decree gave the father the right to offer advice on medical decisions. When the two disagreed, he sued to block the circumcision.

The father believed circumcision could cause the boy long-term physical and psychological harm. The child's mother wanted the procedure to prevent recurring infections.

The Associated Press is not naming the parents to protect the child's privacy. The father was born and raised in Poland; The mother is from Slovakia. Both now live in suburban Chicago.

In his ruling, Kaplan called circumcision an extraordinary medical procedure as it relates to a nine-year-old child.

Alan Toback, the father's attorney, said the father is extremely happy with the judge's decision and feels he saved part of his son's anatomy.

A telephone call from The Associated Press to the mother's attorney on Tuesday was not immediately returned. The mother had testified that her son suffered five bouts of painful inflammation and had begged her to help him.

The case reflects a national debate over the medical necessity of circumcision. In 1999, the American Academy of Pediatrics reversed its support of routine infant circumcision, citing questionable benefits and medical and anecdotal evidence that circumcised men have less penile sensitivity.

Most U.S. newborn boys are circumcised before they leave the hospital, but a growing number of parents are opting against the surgery.

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