New York’s Board of Health usually deals with topics like lead paint and tuberculosis, but this week is expected to draw heated arguments on two contentious subjects: a ban on large sugary drinks and the possibility of babies contracting herpes through a circumcision ritual.
On Monday, the 11-member panel is set to hear public comments on a proposal to require parental consent for circumcisions practiced by ultra-Orthodox Jews in which the mohel, or religious leader, sucks blood from the baby’s wound.
The city proposes requiring parents to provide written consent for a circumcision involving “direct oral suction.”
A Department of Health study found that this practice, called metzitzah b’peh, increases the risk of a herpes infection, which can be fatal for infants.
From November 2000 to December 2011, 11 babies were infected with herpes after Jewish ritual circumcisions, according to the study. Two died.
A coalition opposing the proposed rule says the city’s study was too small-scale to be statistically significant. The city hasn’t documented a direct link between a mohel and an infected infant through DNA fingerprinting. The group said the rule is an unwarranted government intrusion in a religious practice.
“We are fully convinced that it presents no danger,” said Rabbi David Niederman, a spokesman for the Central Rabbinical Congress of the USA
Source: The Wall Street Journal