CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, Thursday, June 15, 2006.

Mom: Dad showed son photos of circumcision

June 15, 2006


An Arlington Heights man showed his 8-year-old son graphic pictures of a circumcision in progress as part of an effort to prevent the boy's mother from having him circumcised.

The man also told his son he could lose his penis, be left with a limp or die from the procedure, the mother testified Wednesday.

The mother, who is remarried and lives in Northbrook, said her ex-husband refused to have their son circumcised at birth because he said their son is "not a Jew."

They are in court battling over whether the boy needs to have the foreskin on his penis removed to prevent recurring infections.

The father denies making anti-Semitic remarks but admits he printed information off the Internet for his son, to accompany a letter he helped his son write, asking his mother not to circumcise him.

Cook County Judge Jordan Kaplan will issue a ruling in August.

The boy's pediatrician, Dr. Arnold Goldstein, as well as Dr. William Kaplan, head of urology at Children's Memorial Hospital, both recommend circumcision to prevent the painful redness, swelling and cracking his mother says he has endured four times since 2004.

The boy's father, however, flew in experts who say better hygiene and medication will help the boy.

Nearly all of his attorneys and experts are serving him for free or via a fund set up by a national anti-circumcision organization.

Court records show the father has twice been held in contempt and sentenced to jail for failing to help pay the boy's medical bills.

He faced a contempt ruling going into this hearing, but Tuesday, he paid past-due bills to lift that ruling.

Tracy Rizzo, attorney for the boy's mother, said that pattern, coupled with the father's overall lack of involvement in the boy's medical care, shows he's pursuing a case driven by politics rather than the boy's best interest.

Rate lowest since '70s

The National Center for Health Statistics said that in 2003, 55.9 percent of all male babies were circumcised in the United States -- the lowest rate since at least the 1970s.

That has driven a vocal anti-circumcision effort, but Georgia attorney David Llewellyn, representing the father with Alan Toback and John D'Arco, insists that is not what this case is about.

Llewellyn said the mother simply wants the boy circumcised so he can look more like his stepfather and stepbrother, who are circumcised.

Llewellyn also implied the boy has touched or at least seen his 11-year-old stepbrother's penis.

"Who has what status and who looks like whom" is the real issue, Llewellyn said in court.

The father testified the boy has never complained to him about pain near his penis, but the mother got choked up as she described how her son "was crying profusely" and "very scared" when his penis became so irritated that he could not put on swim trunks or pants.

"I don't want him to be in pain," the mother testified.

Llewellyn attributed the condition to poor hygiene or swimming in water with high chemical levels.

(File created 17 June 2006)