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Woman who fled to avoid son’s circumcision is arrested

  • Dennis Nebus, right, of Boca Raton, sits in court with his lawyers May Cain and William Snihur, Jr., in a continuing legal battle with Heather Hironimus, the mother of his son, who has been fighting his efforts to have their son circumcised, in Delray Beach, Fla. on March 10. (Mark Randall/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP, File)

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. » A Florida woman who fled to avoid the circumcision of her son was arrested Thursday for contempt of court, her attorney said.

Heather Hironimus went missing with her 4-year-old child nearly three months ago, going into hiding as her long court battle against the surgery reached its climax. Though her defenders said she was simply doing what she could to protect a child portrayed as "scared to death" of the procedure, a judge issued a scalding rebuke for her refusal to appear in court, charging her with contempt and issuing an arrest warrant.

She was taken into custody Thursday, her attorney Thomas Hunker said, declining to release further details. Her name did not yet appear in inmate databases and calls to jail officials went unanswered.

Both sides are under a gag order in the case and Hunker did not disclose the whereabouts of the child.

Hironimus and the boy’s father, Dennis Nebus, have been warring since her pregnancy. They were never married but share custody of their child, and in a parenting agreement filed in court, the two agreed to the boy’s circumcision. The mother later changed her mind, though, giving way to a long legal battle. Circuit and appellate judges have sided with the father, but potential surgeons have backed out after failing to get the mother’s consent and being targeted by anti-circumcision protesters.

Last month, out of options in state courts, Hunker filed a federal civil rights complaint on behalf of the child. No hearings have been held in that case yet.

Circumcision rates have fallen in the U.S., but a majority of boys still undergo the removal of their foreskin. Even so, a bubbling movement of so-called "intactivists" has made the case a rallying cry against a surgery they view as barbaric.

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