Local Pols Opposed To City Regulating Controversial Circumcision Ritual

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Source: Produnis via Wikimedia Commons

The New York City Health Department will now require parents to give written consent before a mohel can perform an obscure circumcision ritual performed by ultra-Orthodox Jewish sects.

The department believes that one aspect of the ritual, the “metzitzah b’peh,” in which the mohel sucks blood from the child’s penis during the circumcision, may not be safe. The ritual is common among ultra-Orthodox groups, but less common in other Jewish sects. The Department of Health now requires a consent form before allowing the practice.

“We have clearly identified that one specific procedure that is performed as part of some circumcisions, what we are calling direct oral suction, can be transmitting infections to infants that will make them seriously ill and some situations lead to their death,” said Dr. Jay Varma, of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to CBS Local.

The New York City Health Department claims 11 babies contracted the herpes virus due to the ritual. Two of the babies died.

Local Councilmen David Greenfield and Lewis Fidler have come forward to say that they’d support any parents pursuing a lawsuit against the Department of Health on the grounds of interfering with practitioners’ religion.

“I really think this is a real invasion into people’s religious freedom,” Fidler said to the Daily Jewish Forward. “It lacks a sufficient basis and justification. The evidence here supporting this decision is just not strong enough.”

Previously, Senator David Storobin also expressed opposition to the Department of Health bill.

47 Comments

  1. Just because it is painful for adults, denied by many who did have it done, is a terrible excuse for doing it to a baby. Abandon this genital mutilation habit for five years, and see how many want to resume doing it afterwards.

  2. Your belief that the infant does not suffer is not borne out by science.  

    Your friend should get a better doctor.  Adult genital surgery can be painless.  

    Foreskin feels REALLY good.  It’s the best part.  

  3. Lew from Brooklyn on

     Folks,

    I believe most strenuously that our present society lacks tolerance for the views and beliefs of others. As a (circumcised) Jew, I do not personally believe in the practice of metzitzah b’peh. I am entitled to that view. But for those who do believe, they should be free to practice their religion as they see fit.

    This is a conversation I have had with others in the context of gay rights. Think about it. What is good for the goose is good for the gander.

    The evidence that this practice is unsafe is extremely tenuous in my view. Sure, there have been one or two instances of irresponsibility over hundreds of thousands of acts of this ritual. Asking a Rabbi or a religious leader to tell you that this is the practice of your faith, but you need to sign a waiver because it is potentially dangerous is a broad intrusion into the freedom of religion.

    As to whether a parent has the right to make this decision for an infant child….

    First, I had a dear friend who had not been circumcised at birth. In his thirties, a health issue required that he undergo a circumcision. The operation and its aftermath were extremely painful. I believe that a small child has less than fully developed nerves in the circumcision area and while every child cries, it is not necessarily from any pain.

    Second, be serious. Parents make a zillion decisions for infant children everyday. If they didn’t who would?

    I appreciate the comments made on this issue which were respectful and serious and hope that all will consider what I have posted here and repeat to themselves “I will be tolerant of others and their practices even if they are not my own.”

    Lew from Brooklyn

  4. Now THAT’S  offensive and totally uncalled for.  I suppose you enjoy insulting people’s sensibilities?    Go crawl back into your sociopathic hole!!

  5.  So don’t call it “mutilation”. Call it cutting (the best) part of his [euphemism] off. And parents should be able to do it to the baby – and the man he will become – because?

  6. No matter what NYC thinks, parents do not have legal standing to make medical personal act NOT in the best interest of the patient.  

    Circumcision is simply NOT medical treatment unless there is a diagnosis of defect or disease, a record of less-destructive remedies tried, and a documented case for why waiting for the patient’s own rational informed consent is not possible.  

    Doctors or mohels sidestepping these basic treatment principles most definitely expose themselves and their insurers to liability.  

  7. Pretty much not a worry nowadays in plces with indoor plumbing. It was more of an issue ages ago when people were showering, like, once a month.

    “Mmm I smells me some parmesan… oh no, wait… that’s smegma!”

  8. I don’t know anybody who is not jewish and had circumcision, and neither of those people had any infections, nature put it there for a reason and for protection, common ppl take a shower and take care of yourselves…

  9. Actually, “mutilation” is most appropriate – see description from the Wikipedia and their examples of religious mutilations:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mutilation
    If procedure is done for health reasons, then it should be done by licensed medical professionals.
    If it is done for religious reasons, then government has right to protect all its citizens (even if they are just born) by requesting signed consent form from individual himself (or a guardian in this case) that it was done completely under free will.
    What is wrong with that?  Government did not tell them to stop completely.

  10. I Work in a hospital where a baby died from getting herpes from the mohl during the bris.  I understand the religious ritual, but I do think the mohel should be responsible enough to NOT suck if he has a mouth sore??  
    That is what I do not understand…

  11. Rabbi Mohammed McCarthy on

    Also: Be leery of any “cold cuts” served at a bris.

    The reasons are self explanatory.

  12. Rabbi Mohammed McCarthy on

    P.S: That’s an inordinately l-o-o-o-o-ng baby in the picture.

    Very cute, though…like a burrito with a head attached to it!

  13. Aren’t we overreacting? Circumcision’s are NOT being banned. The process may take place with a consent form before allowing the procedure.  What’s the big deal? If a parent signs a consent form it just indemnifies the mohel and the hospital from possible future lawsuits. 
    Besides, if the mohel takes a swig of wine before he sucks the off the blood, wouldn’t the alcohol eliminate the germs?

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  15. Don’t think any religious group would sanction an “appomination” – since no one knows what that is.

  16.  Right, parents brainwash their kids. But splashing around some water and saying some magic words doesn’t do anything except scare them into believing in sky daddy.

    If you’re trying to argue that we should outlaw this brainwashing, sure!

  17. Taking an infant to a jeweler for pierced ears is Okay though. Give me a break.
    This is pain for WHOSE vanity?

  18. I didn’t say anything like that. What I implied is that a Christian child at an older age receives 3 sacraments with out a choice. It’s a religious CHOICE of the parents in both cases.

  19. People may disagree with me, but I think “mutilating” is an extreme word, and, until recently, circumcision was long held to reduce infections and better the health of the individual. I say until recently because it has only recently come into question and been brought back to debate – though nothing is truly proven one way or the other. However, in NY at least, it’s been standard procedure for almost every baby, regardless of religion, for about a generation.

  20. The same then as for Communion. Not many Christian children have a choice but to take the sacraments.  It’s not being looked at as medically unnecessary. It’s a right of religion, a young Jewish boy will most likely grow up to be a Jewish man. Leaving or changing religions will be his choice when he is older. 
    I know Christians who are not circumcised and have had no health problems.  It is/was a practice and if it is outdated the people practicing will have to make adjustments. Testing and documentation. 
    P.S. I also know of men that have had it done when they are older and the pain is ten fold, so are the risks.

  21.  No, they shouldn’t choose whether the kid can keep his dick tip or not. That’s something he should decide when he’s older.

  22. Can’t the parents just have a choice? If the parents want a paper trail one should be provided. Such thinks as a medical document and annual testing of the Rabbi would be nice. Hey a person can catch anything off a toilet seat, right?
    So this is one decision the politicians are not leaving up to “the community”?

  23. There’s something so wrong about a man putting his mouth on an open wound. You would think the Orthodox community would put the safety of their baby boys ahead of this archaic ritual.

  24. Rabbi Mohammed McCarthy on

    Ridiculous…I know!

    When my wife caught me pleasuring myself to sonogram porn, she almost reported me! The noive!

  25. Albeit that I agree with your comment, you could have stated it in a less “douchey” way.

    For Example: The practice of Rabbi’s sucking blood from an infants genitalia for religious reasons is absurd. If it were anyone else sucking blood from an infants genitalia region, they would most certainly be convicted and incarcerated for pedophilia. 

  26. Its just another outdated concept….started because they had no band-aids available…and there was only one Duane Reed back then

  27. I can’t say anything anti-religious without the comment getting deleted, can I?
    Blowjobs to newborns would land you to jail, but these barbarians get a free pass.

  28. Jews suck bloody baby dick because… religion…
    Normally you’d toss anyone else for that kind of act in jail, but they get a free pass.

  29. What invasion? Nobody is outlawing the procedure they’re just asking a form be signed so there is a paper trail. So everything expected of the moil and his responsibilities are on paper.

    What the hell is wrong with these people, you can’t sign a form?

  30. yea….. i’m against this mutilation…..  let the kids decide if they want this done or not….