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Archive for Saturday, July 14, 2001

Parents battle over circumcision

July 14, 2001

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— The parents of a newborn boy have separated in a dispute over whether to have the child circumcised, and the dispute could go to court.

Rodney Grisham contends that allowing the circumcision would be the same as letting someone sexually assault his son.

But his wife, Sheila Grisham, says the procedure is important to her religious beliefs.

Rodney Grisham, 25, has even filed a protection-from-abuse order in his son's name in Sedgwick County court to prevent the procedure. A hearing is set for Thursday.

"I believe every child has a right to have their genitals left alone," Rodney Grisham said.

His son, Asher, who is less than 2 weeks old, is staying with Sheila Grisham, who says her reasons for the circumcision are strictly religious.

"I've talked it over with my pastor and decided that's what I want to do," she said.

Her pastor, Marrell Cornwell of First Pentecostal Church in Wichita, is baffled by the dispute. He said it is the first such dispute he has heard of between parents in his congregation. He was unable to persuade Rodney Grisham to approve the circumcision.

Cornwell said circumcision is not necessary for salvation, but it is still important.

"It's a part of our Judaic Christian heritage," Cornwell said. "And it's a very strong part."

In circumcision, an anesthetic usually is applied to the penis and the foreskin is cut away.

The American Academy of Pediatrics declared two years ago that circumcision carries few medical benefits and is generally unnecessary.

However, the academy suggested families continue to follow their personal preferences, including religious traditions.

Rodney Grisham said personal preference should not outweigh the pain that the procedure must cause an infant.

If his son decides to be circumcised when he is older, that's fine, Rodney Grisham said.

"I think it could really traumatize a baby," he said. "And I can't go through with that."

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