City refuses to share public records on enforcement of the city's informed consent requirement or answer questions about it. The city's new mayor, Bill de Blasio, promised Satmar he would abolish the requirement in exchange for their bloc votes. The promise was caught on video, but de Blasio denied it was true. Now it seems it really is.
Owned By Satmar? New York City’s Mayor Stonewalls On Dangerous Haredi Circumcision Practice
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
It’s been more than a year since New York City’s informed consent requirement for metzitzah b’peh (MBP), the direct mouth-to-bleeding-penis suction done immediately after removing the baby’s foreskin, was put in place.
MBP is practiced mostly by hasidic and haredi mohels. Most other Jewish groups stopped doing the practice almost two centuries ago because it spreads disease and kills babies.
Since the informed consent requirement was put in place, at least two New York City babies contracted herpes simplex 1 from MBP.
Even so, as the Forward reported last month, Avrohom “Romi” Cohn, one of the city’s leading haredi mohels, still openly refuses to follow the informed consent regulation. (It is very likely that other haredi mohels are also ignoring the informed consent, as well.)
Bill de Blasio, New York’s new mayor, promised the Satmar Aharon faction just before the election that he would abolish the informed consent requirement for MBP as soon as he took office. He made this promise to Rabbi Moshe Indig at a campaign rally in Williamsburg meant to celebrate his winning the Aharon faction’s bloc vote. Speaking in English, Indig loudly repeated the promise a moment later, almost yelling into his microphone that Satmar’s bloc vote had toppled the hated MBP informed consent. Standing less than six feet away was de Blasio, who did not correct Indig or act to retract that statement.
When FailedMessiah.com posted a video of the incident, de Blasio denied the promise was made.
(Even though the promise and de Blasio's denial made news across the city, and even though the video is still posted on Failedmessiah.com, the Forward does not mention the promise or Satmar's bloc vote or the video – another in a long line of examples, it seems, of the Forward trying to appease Williamsburg hasidim, the group it sees as a possible savior for its Yiddish edition. Almost all Yiddish speakers in America today are hasidim.)
Now the Forward has asked the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene the following question.
“In light of Rabbi Cohn’s statements and actions, will the [health department] be taking action to try to prevent more cases of MBP-related herpes and/or to enforce its consent form rule?”
The Forward says it sent that question to the DoHMH via email eight times between March 27 and April 22. It also called the DoHMH four times between April 9 and April 22 and left messages.
No one responded.
But previously, the DoHMH said it has never sanctioned or fined a mohel for failing to comply with the informed consent requirement.
It reportedly refuses to say whether or not it has ever checked to see if mohels are complying.
The Forward filed a Freedom of Information Law request in February to find out whether the DoHMH had ever requested completed informed consent forms from mohels. It also asked to see redacted copies of the forms.
The city refused to comply.
The Forward appealed on March 26.
The city was legally required to respond within 10 business days.
It did not respond at all.
What the Forward does not report is that the city never planned on checking for compliance or enforcing anything.
The plan was as follows:
• Mohels are mandated to get the informed consent from parents or legal guardians before doing MBP.
• If a baby gets sick, the parents would be asked by hospital staff or the city to identify the mohel.
• The city would check to see if the mohel had a signed informed consent or not.
• Or, if parents complained to the city that they were not warned that the mohel would do MBP, the city would check to see if the mohel had a signed informed consent or not.
Haredi rabbis have forbidden parents to tell the city who their son's mohel was.
Along with that, the city is, apparently, refusing to spot check known mohels or do any other possible enforcement in light of Cohn's public refusal to follow the informed consent requirement and parents' refusal to identify mohels.
The regulation was weak to begin with and the de Blasio Administration has now made it toothless.