January 25, 2008
In an ongoing custody battle, the Oregon Supreme Court decided a 12-year-old boy should have a say in whether he should or should not be circumcised as part of a conversion to Judaism. The child of Lia and James Boldt was raised in the Russian Orthodox Church, but his father James, who has primary custody, converted to Judaism in 2004. The couple divorced in 1999.
After conversion, James began discussing the religion with his son and informed the ex-wife of his intentions for the son to convert as well. The mother objected to the conversion and circumcision as invasive and possibly dangerous. The father argued that his First Amendment rights to the free exercise of religion allowed him to choose what religion his child was raised in.
The Oregon Supreme Court in a decision authored by Chief Justice Paul De Muniz reversed the decision of the Oregon Court of Appeals and returned the case to the trial level court. The trial court in Jackson County, Oregon, was to determine if the 12-year-old boy agrees with being circumcised or if he disagrees with the procedure, and take that into account with their ruling. The state supreme court had received four amicus briefs from national Jewish groups supporting the father’s position.
The part where the father argues that it’s his right to the free exercise of religion blah blah blah blah blah. What about the boys right not to be mutilated? The genitals in question belong to the boy, not the father, unless the procedure is to correct a defect or cure a medical condition or simply what the boy wants no one has the right to dictate to the boy how his penis should be.
I’m not sure if a 12 year old can make an informed decision but it would be better if he could choose although I could picture the father “exercising his rights” and pressuring his son into being circumcised.
If it’s done at birth and is a family tradition you could say there is a difference but in this regard it’s the fathers’ decision to change religions and it looks like he wants drag everyone else in with him.
This isn’t some haircut or style of clothes we are talking about here, it’s a form of surgery which comes with various risks. There would also be changes in sensation for the boy which he may or may not like.
And successful or not every time the boy goes to the toilet he will see the results of someone else rights taking primacy over his own and making a major decision on his behalf.
Your children’s genitals are not yours.