web analytics
August 1, 2015 / 16 Av, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


The Metzitzah B’Peh Controversy

Anyone who reads the text of the New York City Department of Health’s proposed rule regarding metzitzah b’peh will immediately notice that two fundamental concerns have been virtually ignored in all of the public debate over the measure.

Certainly there have been very public arguments over the propriety or impropriety of governmental regulation of a religious practice and over the evidence or lack of same linking the procedure to herpes. And there are many who have raised the “slippery slope” concern that regulating an adjunct of bris milah will inevitably lead to further restrictions on the core practice itself, even though the DOH proposal would only require that parents be made aware of the risks associated with the practice in order to be able to make an informed consent. But therein lies the rub.

In pertinent part, the proposed new rule provides as follows:

Consent for direct oral suction as part of a circumcision.(a) Direct oral suction means contact between the mouth of a person performing circumcision and the infant’s circumcised penis.

(b) Written informed consent required. A person may not perform a circumcision that involves direct oral suction on a child under one year of age without obtaining, prior to the circumcision, the written informed consent of a parent or legal guardian of the child who is being circumcised in a form approved or provided by the Department. The written informed consent must include notice that direct oral suction exposes the infant to the risk of transmission of herpes simplex virus infection and other infectious diseases.

(C) Retention of consent forms. The person performing the circumcision must give the parent or legal guardian a copy of the signed consent form and retain the original for one year from the date of the circumcision, making it available for inspection if requested by the Department.

For one thing, we do not know the language the actual consent form will contain. Indeed, after the adoption of the general rule, it would seem the DOH will have open-ended authority to come up with descriptions of the alleged risks and its choices will not be subjected to standard limitations on rule-making authority. The possibilities are enormous if not endless. This is especially problematic since the rule is not limited to the risk of transmission of the herpes virus but to “other infectious diseases” as well.

Also of great concern is the possibility of child-abuse charges being leveled against the mohel or parents should metzitzah b’peh be performed and, God forbid, one of the diseases described in the consent form is thought to have resulted. Indeed, there have been reports that the Brooklyn district attorney is looking into bringing criminal charges in a case where a child who underwent metzitzah b’peh died.

And it just seems incongruous that parents will be required to sign a form acknowledging that they are knowingly placing their child in harm’s way.

Moreover, what we have here is a government regulation that will declare – with unknown particulars – that a time-honored Jewish religious practice, albeit one not universally accepted and employed by all observant Jews, risks the health and well-being of newborns. This is never a good thing for Jews, particularly so today, as witness the outbreak of challenges to circumcision and schechita in a number of countries.

It is crucial that our community stand up in defense of our traditions. In this connection we are still uncomfortable with the election to the New York City Council three years ago of a Jewish candidate who never fully apologized for publicly describing bris milah as “the ritual violence of circumcision.” The Jewish Press at the time forcefully condemned the comments of that candidate, who ran in a majority Jewish district with the fulsome support of an elected official well known for his advocacy of Jewish causes.

Effective free passes like that are not helpful no matter who bestows them.

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

One Response to “The Metzitzah B’Peh Controversy”

  1. U want jews to stand up and defend their traditions? Well this is one warped and deranged tradition. REALLY PEOPLE STOP BEING RELIGIOUS IDIOTS and just start being religious people. It was tradition to torture and kill heretics a few hundreds years ago.

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Matt Lee of the Associated Press at the State Department press briefing.
ObameDeal Exposed: It’s not ‘Secret’ from Congress but not in Writing
Latest Indepth Stories
Silhouette of "hilltop settler."

“Yesha” and Binyamin Regional Council leaders said the attack “is not the path of Jews in Judea and Samaria.”

Schwartz-073115

The occasion? The rarely performed mitzvah of pidyon peter chamor: Redemption of a firstborn donkey.

Rabbi YY Rubinstein

American leftists have a pathological self-inflicted blindness to the dangers of political Islam

Tobin-073115

Hillary should THANK Trump; By dominating the news he’s overshadowed the implosion of her campaign

Hard to remember when Jewish youth were so hostile to their heritage as they are on campuses today.

Names of the enablers of Iran’s Nuclear weapons will be added next to Hitler’s on the list of infamy

By most accounts, the one person with the political muscle to swing enough Democratic votes to override a veto is Sen. Schumer.

The next day, in a speech in New York to the Council on Foreign Relations, Mr. Kerry substantially upped the ante.

In Israel, the judiciary has established itself as superior to ALL other branches of the government.

The Fifteenth Day of the month of Av became a day of national rejoicing. The moment that had seemed hopeless became the moment of Redemption.

I think the melodies in our religious services have a haunting sound to them that just permeates your guts and gets into your soul. If you have any musical inclination, I think they inspire you to compose.

Cavalier analogies to the Holocaust are unacceptable, but Huckabee’s analogy was very appropriate.

Pollard was a Jewish-head-on-a-pike for all American Jews to see and to learn the explicit lesson.

If the Iran deal passes, Obama’s WH becomes world’s leading financier of terrorism against Americans

More Articles from Editorial Board

The next day, in a speech in New York to the Council on Foreign Relations, Mr. Kerry substantially upped the ante.

Mr. Kerry may or may not be genuinely disturbed and troubled by the Iranian leader’s continued belligerence. With the deal completed, that’s not even a matter of concern anymore.

Mr. Silver’s legislation changed the primary date to April 19, which avoids any conflict. And, we are happy to say, he received the support of Republicans in the legislature for changing the date.

The issue of the Chief Rabbinate’s control over conversions and other life-cycle matters has long been a contentious one.

Can adoption agencies limit the placement of children to heterosexual couples only?

The court’s finding that the president has exclusive jurisdiction in recognizing foreign countries might have been be apt if the issue at hand were a congressional attempt to grant recognition to “Palestine” as a state.

It wasn’t too long ago that Mr. Erdogan, in his determination to burnish Turkey’s credentials as an Islamist state at the cost of the secularism that had brought much economic and political success to Turkey, upended his country’s decades-long cooperative relationship with Israel.

Does the pope really believe that Father Dehon’s destructive anti-Jewish calumnies do not disqualify him from the highest honor of the Catholic Church because in his time everyone did it?

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/editorial/the-metzitzah-bpeh-controversy/2012/09/12/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: