I have two caveats applicable to my analysis of this story. I am not an attorney. The charge against the individual is an allegation.
Ocala Police said they arrested a man who allegedly attempted to circumcise his 1-year-old nephew while babysitting Saturday.
Police said Larry Leroy Floyd was watching the boy while his father was at the store. They do not know why Floyd attempted to circumcise him.
The boy was taken to the hospital. Ocala police arrested Floyd and charged him with domestic aggravated battery.
For the sake of analysis, I’ll assume that Floyd attempted to circumcise his nephew and did so without permission of either of the boy’s parents. There are many implications from that. I want to analyze this more than I should. I’ll choose prudence instead, based on my first caveat.
Circumcision is surgery. Surgery inflicts some level of harm, regardless of the benefit(s) pursued. Harm is battery. Circumcision, as surgery, is battery. That much is simple and should be non-controversial.
Not all surgery is legally actionable. Informed consent is a defense against surgery. Consent is why we don’t prosecute doctors for performing surgery. Again, this is simple and should be non-controversial.
This (alleged) surgery is legally actionable, obviously. If circumcision didn’t categorically (and objectively) constitute harm, the criminal charge would need to be something else, if anything at all. But circumcision involves harm, as all surgery involves harm. That presents the proper issue in the debate about non-therapeutic child circumcision. Whose consent to this harm should be required?
Too often the assumption in favor of parental choice via proxy consent ignores harm. (e.g. AAP) Society defends parental choice for non-therapeutic circumcision by favoring irrelevant, flawed distractions focused only on an overblown applicability of potential benefits and a minimized view of risks. The inevitable harm from circumcision matters. Harm must inform who should – and should not – be permitted to consent. For non-therapeutic male child circumcision, society needs a rethink.