New York City's new mayor, Bill de Blasio, says he wants to change the city's informed consent requirement for Jewish ritual circumcisions involving metzitzah b'peh (MBP), the direct mouth-to-bleeding-penis suction done by haredi mohels immediately after removing the baby’s foreskin and the membrane beneath it.
De Blasio being endorsed by a Satmar faction during the campaign
De Blasio says protecting children is his first priority (and that is why the informed consent requirement will stay in place for now) but he wants to find a better way to to deal with the issue. MBP-transmitted disease has maimed and even killed babies, and de Blasio is right to want to do a better job of protecting those children. (Banning MBP would be the correct step to take, but de Blasio will probably never do this.)
However, de Blasio says the haredi community was not properly consulted before the MBP informed consent was put in place.
This is essentially a lie – haredim violated an agreement with the city made in 2005-2006 to remove infected mohels from practicing and consistently demagogued the issue whenever it has been raised.
Nonetheless, the city held open hearings on the plan to require an informed consent and allowed plenty of time for haredim to provide reasons not to do it.
What they provided was, essentially, the equivalent to claiming that creationism should be taught as a science equivalent to biology, and they lost – resoundingly.
Pandering to haredim – especially to the large Satmar voting blocs accused of things like massive organized voter fraud – is no way for an elected official to behave.
But that is what de Blasio did during the election when he allowed a Satmar spokesman to announce that Blasio had promised to remove the informed requirement immediately on taking office in exchange for their votes, a claim de Blasio later said was false – even though it was made in English on a public address system in front of hundreds of hasidim by a leader of that Satmar faction who was standing only five feet from de Blasio when he made it.
Past de Blasio's now more careful pandering, his new Commissioner of Health Dr. Mary Travis Bassett made an error when she spoke. There have been 13 cases of reported MBP-transmitted Herpes Simplex 1 in NYC over the past decade or so. But there are only two reported deaths and one case of severe permanent brain damage.
Odds are that many more children were sickened, but reporting wasn't mandatory until the last several years and even with mandatory reporting, there are plenty of ways around doing it.
New Commissioner of Health Says MBP Informed Consent Requirement To Stay In Place.