New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has the ability to fill a majority of the seats on the New York City Board of Health with his own appointees before he asks that board to repeal the city’s informed consent requirement for all circumcisions involving metzitzah b’peh (MBP), the dangerous mouth-to-bleeding-penis sucking done by haredi mohels after cutting off the baby’s foreskin. And so de Blasio delayed asking the board to toss the existing informed consent requirement and has allegedly set out to fill the board with his own appointees, who will then likely rubber-stamp whatever the mayor wants done, even if it goes against what a majority of pediatric infectious disease specialists and public health experts believe is safe.
De Blasio Likely To Replace Bloomberg-Era Health Board Members Before Controversial Circumcision Vote
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has the ability to fill a majority of the seats on the New York City Board of Health with his own appointees before he asks that board to repeal the city’s informed consent requirement for all circumcisions involving metzitzah b’peh (MBP), the dangerous mouth-to-bleeding-penis sucking done by haredi mohels after cutting off the baby’s foreskin, the Wall Street Journal reported.
De Blasio says he wants the informed consent scrapped because the haredi community refuses to comply with it. But just before the 2013 election, de Blasio openly promised Satmar hasidim – perhaps the most vociferous opponents of the informed consent – that he would scrap the informed consent in exchange for their bloc vote.
The informed consent requirement was unanimously adopted by the Board of Health and Mental Hygiene in 2012.
At least 17 babies have contracted herpes from MBP over the past decade or so. Two died and two were left with severe brain damage. Most of the rest were hospitalized for more than a week, and some for a much longer period of time. All the survivors will carry and transmit the herpes virus for the rest of their lives.
Two recent studies have found that having the herpes virus doubles a person’s chance of having Alzheimer’s Disease later in life, and there are real fears that when contracted as a very young infant, herpes may be causing milder forms of brain damage primarily expressed as learning disabilities, although this has yet to be proven.
De Blasio wants to adopt a new policy that is eerily similar to the city’s previous policy, hashed out with haredim in 2005, that hinged on haredi self-reporting and voluntary compliance. Haredi rabbis violated that accord almost immediately.
The new proposed policy would see haredi rabbis banning mohels who have been proved to have transmitted herpes to a infant, and those bans would, proponents claim, be in effect worldwide.
But there is no legal framework in place for anything like this to be enforced, let alone any history of haredi rabbis keeping similar agreements or even of having the will to try. And because of the elusive nature of the herpes virus and the ease in which mohels could cheat the proposed testing protocol, it is unlikely many – or even any – mohels will be banned, no matter how many babies are sickened or killed.
Worse yet, the proposed protocol depends on an infant first being sickened, rather than take action to prevent infants from being infected. And if a baby gets herpes, even if he dies the city will not ban that mohel unless his herpes strain matches the baby’s. But because herpes is so elusive and so difficult to test for and match – even when researchers know with absolute certainty what the source strain of herpes is, the subject will not always test positively for that particular strain, even though that subject has the infection – it is very possible an infected mohel will still be allowed to practice.
None of this, however, appears to bother de Blasio or his administration.
“Along with Health Department education in health care settings, this promises to be a more successful approach,” said Mary Bassett, commissioner of the city’s Department of Health & Mental Hygiene said of the new proposed protocol. “Community cooperation will make identification of mohelim who may have transmitted the infection more likely, and help prevent cases of neonatal herpes.”
The de Blasio administration wanted to present the new proposal to the Board of Health in March. But the board is overwhelmingly opposed to it and it likely would not be approved.
So de Blasio decided to delay until June to have more time to build its case, aides claimed.
But that delay actually has another important benefit for the mayor. The terms of four members of the board – all Bloomberg Administration appointees – have expired and another seat on the board is currently vacant. The delay gives de Blasio time to appoint replacements and to fill the vacant seat. Presumably everyone he appoints will first have to promise him they will vote for the new protocol and scrap the informed consent.
Right now, only two of the 11 board members are de Blasio appointees – including Bassett, who has been fawning in her praise for the new protocol.
Board members generally serve six-year terms and need City Council approval. When members terms expire, they are legally allowed to continue sitting on the board until replacements are confirmed.