KANSAS CITY STAR, Kansas City, Missouri,
Thursday, 15 July 2004.

Mother seeks high court order to block circumcision

The Kansas City Star

A Lee's Summit woman is asking the Missouri Supreme Court to prevent the "unneeded and irreparable'' circumcision of her almost 3-year-old son.

The attorney for Camille Azar filed a petition for a writ of prohibition Wednesday with the Supreme Court, effectively asking the state's highest court to reverse a decision made in Jackson County Circuit Court. Ultimately, Azar hopes to stop Ray Jagoda, the child's father, from having their son circumcised.

The child turns 3 in September and, according to the petition, is "aware of his own body."

"The potential for psychological harm from non-infant circumcisions is well established and great," the petition states.

Michael Whitsitt, the attorney for Jagoda, said Wednesday he had no comment about the latest development in the case.

Jagoda and Azar never married, and Jackson County Circuit Judge Christine Sill-Rogers granted full custody to Jagoda earlier this year. Azar, who was the child's primary caregiver until he was about 29 months old, has appealed that ruling.

Her immediate concern, she said Wednesday, is preventing a circumcision that she deems unnecessary and potentially harmful. According to the petition filed with the Supreme Court, "Mr. Jagoda has indicated that he is determined to circumcise the child immediately, with or without a doctor, with or without anesthesia."

Azar said Wednesday that, according to studies she has read and experts she has spoken with, her son's age might be the worst for a child to be circumcised.

"This is the most frightening age and damaging age psychologically," she said. "I have to protect him.

"He knows his body very well. He's aware enough to understand what his body is like now but not able to understand why part of that would be taken away. Kids this age see the operation as a punishment, a mutilation, a castration."

Azar said she is generally opposed to the idea of circumcision. If her son were old enough to decide for himself, she said, she wouldn't object.

So she's taking her fight to the state's highest court.

According to legal rules, Whitsitt has 10 days to file suggestions and oppositions.

"Circumcision would be the removal of perfectly healthy tissue from a person not legally competent to object," the petition states. "Circumcision is non-reversible amputation. It is the permanent destruction of living, non-threatening, sensitive tissue."

(File created 15 July 2004)