Rabbi Simcha A. Green
Sometimes one must admit to a mistake or a partial mistake. A while back I wrote a letter to The Jewish Press titled “Thumbs Up for Obamacare.” I still believe it is better that a young person can stay on his or her parents’ health insurance policy until age 26, as stipulated by Obama’s health plan, and that insurance companies should not be able to deny coverage for pre-existing conditions or set lifetime limits.
But this current website mess is unacceptable. In addition, President Obama said, time and again, that people would be able to keep their policies. But people are being dropped from their insurance policies.
The problems with the Affordable Care Act must be solved – and soon.
Responding To My Critics On MBP
Clearly, my op-ed article “In Defense of Parental Consent for Metzitzah B’Peh” (Oct. 18), struck a chord.
Not one but three of the M.D. or Ph.D. experts engaged by the plaintiffs in the ongoing lawsuit involving MBP wrote a strongly worded response (“Consent Forms for Metzitzah B’Peh: Empowering Parents or Interfering in Religious Practice?” that appeared in your Nov. 1 issue
But they appear to have forsaken accuracy and context in favor of a heated – one might say personal – broadside. I will give just three representative examples.
First, the friend of the court brief filed by the Becket Fund that they rely on so heavily actually “expresses no opinion” on whether the regulation “withstands strict scrutiny” (i.e., whether it is constitutional or not); it argues “only that strict scrutiny [a heightened standard of review] must be applied” in evaluating the regulation.
More troubling still is the authors’ continued reliance on the so-called UPenn Study. Though the authors acknowledge that Penn has “taken issue with” their “characterization of [the study’s] findings,” they continue to suggest that the study undermines the well-established link between MBP and the transmission of neonatal herpes simplex virus (HSV).
In fact, as the UPenn report concludes, whatever limitations there might be with the available data, “All of [the reviewed] studies present clinical findings that are consistent with transmission of infection from mohel to infant, including the location of lesions, timing of symptom emergence, and typology of HSV.”
These and numerous other peer-reviewed case studies (including studies published in the Pediatric Journal of Infectious Diseases and in the Sexually Transmitted Diseases Journal in Spring and Summer 2013, after the UPenn study was released) upend the assertion that there is “not a single case of neonatal herpes that has been confirmed as occurring from MBP.”
As I made clear in my piece, an infant dying or suffering permanent brain damage as a result of MBP is a “worst case scenario” that, while not common (contrary to the mischaracterization of my argument that leads off the response), is well-documented. So is the resistance to testing within certain communities when infection-by-MBP is suspected. The government is easily within its rights to rely on the overwhelming consensus of the established medical community, buttressed by peer-reviewed literature, in passing informed consent regulations.
Finally, and most fundamentally, the authors failed entirely to respond to my piece’s core point, which is that it should be the parents, not the mohel, who decide – after evaluating the medical risks (however significant or insignificant they are) in light of their own position on the halachic status of MBP – whether to have MBP performed on their own child.