NYC's Department of Health asked the city’s Board of Health – which must approve the city’s public health policies – to mandate that all parents who want metzitzah b’peh (the direct oral-to-genital suction done by the mohel [ritual circumciser] to the baby’s bleeding penis during the circumcision ritual) to be done to their child sign a consent form that shows that they know the procedure carries a risk of infection.
Originally published at 10:49 pm CDT 6-12-2012
NYC Seeks To Mandate Informed Parental Consent For Dangerous Haredi Circumcision Rite
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
Dr. Jay Varma, New York City’s Deputy Commissioner for Disease Control at the city’s Department of Health, asked the city’s Board of Health – which must approve the city’s public health policies – to mandate that all parents who want metzitzah b’peh (the direct oral-to-genital suction done by the mohel [ritual circumciser] to the baby’s bleeding penis during the circumcision ritual) to be done to their child sign a consent form that shows that they know the procedure carries a risk of infection, the New York Times reported Tuesday night.
Metzitzah b’peh (MBP) has killed at least two babies in New York city over the past eleven years and given at least two more irreversible brain damage.
Last week, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a paper based on New York City’s data that showed the dangers of the procedure were 3.4 times greater than that of circumcision done without it.
Previously, New York City’s Department of Health issued a strong warning to parents urging them not to have MBP performed on their children. Hospitals that service the haredi community agreed to distribute a pamphlet to parents warning them of the danger, as well.
MBP is now primarily a hasidic and right wing non-hasidic haredi ritual – except in Israel, where it is more common for non-haredi Jews to have the procedure done, primarily because religious services like circumcision are state-controlled, and that state religious apparatus is haredi-controlled.
Under Varma’s proposal, the mohel would give the consent forms to parents before the circumcision and then keep the signed forms for at least one year. The Department of Health would compose the form.
Varma told the Board of Health that two of the families whose babies got herpes from MBP complained that they did not know beforehand that MBP would be performed. Varma said frightened families had called the Department of Health, some as recently as two weeks ago, complaining that they did not know the mohel would place his mouth on their baby’s penis, and wanting to know what the Department of Health could do to protect parents and infants in the future.
The C.D.C. estimates that approximately 3,600 male neonates have MBP done each year in New York City. Those babies have 3.4 times the risk of contracting herpes than do babies circumcised without MBP.
There is a public hearing on the proposal July 23. The Board of Health will vote on it in September.
“[W]e feel we are on very firm legal ground,” Varma told the Board of Health, “because there is a compelling interest on behalf of the city in protecting the health of infants.”