Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Circumcision of 12-year-old sparks holy war for parents


This is a case I have been watching very closely for a while now—as much because I am a Jew as because I am a custodial parent.

This is an issue for all custodial parents in that we need to have the right to practice our own religion with our children without being hampered by controlling, or G-d forbid, abusive former spouses trying to poke their nose in and have a say.

As a Jew, I am concerned because the boy cannot convert without going though Brit Millah, and his parent would have significant problems trying to keep peace in the home with a gentile son walking around. He would have difficulties keeping kosher, Shabbat, and even getting married in that circumstance. It would be hell.

The obvious choice for the Oregon Supreme Court is to allow the Brit, but Oregon is not necessarily a state where we can count on the obvious to rule the day.

Dad claims son wants surgery, but mom urges court to stop it
Posted: November 7, 2007
4:10 p.m. Eastern

© 2007

A man and his ex-wife are embroiled in a holy war over the issue of circumcising the couple's 12-year-old son.

The Oregon Supreme Court is now considering the case of James Boldt, a family-law attorney who converted to Judaism in 2004. He seeks to have the minor surgery performed against the wishes of the boy's mother, Lia Boldt, who is Russian Orthodox.

"It's the classic kind of decision a custodial parent would make," said James Boldt, according to the Oregonian newspaper.

Lia Boldt, 45, filed for divorce in 1998, and though she initially won custody, James Boldt, who now lives near Olympia, Wash., later gained it.

Mrs. Boldt's lawyer, Clayton Patrick, argued she should get a court hearing to try to prove circumcising a 12-year-old boy poses serious health risks. He also maintained the boy is afraid to tell his father he doesn't wish to go through with the surgery.

"We're not talking about an infant circumcision here," said Patrick. "She's entitled to a hearing."

While the ancient ritual dating back to God's instructions to Abraham of the Old Testament was at issue, the justices hearing the case focused on how much influence a non-custodial parent could have on day-to-day decisions.

Justice W. Michael Gillette asked Patrick what would happen if a non-custodial parent didn't want a child to play a risky sport, such as football.

"The answer to that is that's preposterous," Gillette said. "More people get hurt playing football than having a circumcision."

In court documents, James Boldt raised a larger issue that has drawn national interest, the constitutional right to raise his son according to his faith, including circumcising him.

The Oregonian reports the parents dispute whether the boy himself wants to be circumcised, noting the trial judge did not interview the child or appoint an attorney to represent him.

James Boldt said legally it doesn't matter what the boy wants, saying custodial parents get to make medical decisions for their children.

The Supreme Court gave no indication when it would rule on the case.

1 comment:

  1. A 12-year old boy is old enough to decide for himself what he wants done with his body. And he's old enough to tell his father to go to hell if he wishes. No doctor is going to perform an elective surgery against the wishes of a 12 year old.


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