legal argumentA Florida couple has been fighting over whether they should circumcise their son. (The two never married and are now split up.) The mother does not want to circumcise him, but the father does. The issue ignited a long-term court battle. It has also spurred public protests by self-named "intactivists" -- a group of political activists who want to end the practice of circumcision, which they see as a barbaric form of genital mutilation, potentially life threatening and unnecessary.

Thus far, judges have issued ruling in support of the father's position, so the surgery to remove the boy's foreskin will probably be performed. However, the legal debate has stretched out so long that the boy is currently 4 years of age.

Legal Battle Has Inspired Activism

Intactivists have been coming out to protest the rulings. One man, a machinist from Orlando, traveled to let his voice be heard. His t-shirt read "I (Heart) My Foreskin." The 39-year-old man spoke passionately about the issue, saying that he was not able to speak for himself when his circumcision was performed, but he can certainly talk about it now.

According to court documents, the parents of the boy in this case dated for six months, and the woman eventually became pregnant. After the boy was born, the couple fought out numerous disagreements in court. First, the man had to establish paternity rights to receive partial custody of his son. Eventually, the couple agreed to a parenting plan, the boy's surname, his legal address and who he will call mom and dad. They even agreed to the treatment of their son's penis. According to the agreement, he was to be circumcised.

However, when it was time to take the boy to have the procedure completed, the mother decided it was not in her son's best interest and she refused to schedule the procedure. She argued that it's not worth risking her son's life simply for a cosmetic procedure. The father, on the other hand, says that circumcision is the normal thing to do.

The dispute made its way through Florida's Circuit Court system. First, the court ruled in favor of the father, and the mother appealed the decision. However, the Fourth District Court of Appeal, again, ruled in favor of the father. The mother has not filed any further appeals at this time. On Dec. 24, the parents mutually agreed not to speak with the press about the case, and to steer clear of protest actions and political campaigns that could exploit their child.

Circumcision Slowly Losing Popularity

Circumcision is not as popular in the United States as it once was; however, most boys still have the procedure performed. Parents in the throes of disagreement over parenting issues can seek advice and assistance from a family law attorney, who may be able to assist in asserting their wishes in court.