An Arlington Heights, IL. father will appear in court today to fight what he says is a plan to "mutilate" his 8-year-old son by circumcising him.

from the Chicago Sun-Times

The boy’s mother argues that without circumcision his recurring infections will only get worse.

The divorced couple is embroiled in a bitter fight that will see national experts flying in to testify before a Cook County judge. Their battle reflects a national debate on circumcision — a procedure that has dropped in popularity in the United States over the last 25 years.

Is it medically necessary?

"My child is healthy and he doesn’t want this to happen to him," the father said. "He’s completely comfortable. I don’t see any reason to do it."

But the boy’s mother, who lives in Northbrook, said several doctors have told her that without circumcision earlier infections are likely to continue returning.

"Curing the infection isn’t the issue — it’s stopping it from coming back. And the doctors have said the way to do that is by circumcision," said her attorney, Tracy Rizzo. "But now, [the father] has made this more of a political issue and nothing to do with medicine."

The couple — he’s a Polish native, she’s Slovak — married in 1996 and divorced in 2000.

The divorce decree gives the father input on major medical decisions. In February, a judge was asked to intervene and a restraining order was granted, preventing the mother from having the boy circumcised until after today’s hearing.

Dr. Antonio Chaviano of Children’s Memorial Hospital said fewer U.S. boys are being circumcised at birth, but it’s even more rare to see the procedure done on an older boy.

Chaviano was not familiar with the 8-year-old’s case, but acknowledged that sometimes circumcision is medically necessary for older boys. But he saw no reason for a boy to undergo the procedure if it wasn’t needed. "You’re opening a real Pandora’s box," he said.

Those on both sides of the issue cite studies showing risks for infections and injuries. In a 1999 study, the American Academy of Pediatrics found no overwhelming evidence to support or oppose circumcision.

Attorneys for the father, Alan Toback and John D’Arco, are working with Georgia attorney David Llewellyn, whose expertise is circumcision cases. "Given [the boy’s] age and the absolute lack of any medical necessity, any benefit to the child … is far outweighed by the detriments," Toback said.

But Rizzo, attorney for the boy’s mother, says medicine and proper cleaning instructions have not helped her son — and the mother insists circumcision is needed.

Rizzo says the father repeatedly misses child-support payments and is opposed to his ex-wife’s new marriage — a claim the father denies.

"She just cares about her child," Rizzo said, "and wants to give him the best medical care necessary."

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