Parents whose sons are circumcised using a controversial Orthodox Jewish ritual will no longer have to sign consent forms acknowledging health risks under rules passed Wednesday.
Now, the New York City health department has made a decision to involve city hospital in its plan.
The matter put the health board in a hard position, members noted.
The main objective of the city Board of Health was to renounce this policy that placed religious leaders and health officials in opposing camps over a tradition that is well know in the Jewish community and that dates as far back as over two thousand years.
The “metzitzah b’peh” ritual is the circumcision practice in which a mohel sucks the blood from a freshly snipped foreskin of a baby boy. Many believe that the practice has caused 18 cases of infant herpes since 2000, which is known to cause brain damage in children of this age.
Some rabbis objected, seeing the requirement as an imposition on religious rights, and they urged their faithful not to comply. Those who did perform the ritual also stated that before each circumcision, a circumciser was tested for herpes and was sure to wash his hands and mouth.
Rabbi Romi Cohn of Brooklyn, who says he has safely performed about 35,000 such rituals, commended the city’s change of direction. He is happy with the decision of dropping the signed forms, saying that oral circumcision is an important tradition amongst Jewish people.
“It is our core responsibility to protect the health of New Yorkers”, member Dr. Deepthiman K. Gowda said. “We’re confident that the right place to deliver sensitive educational information about medical risk is in a secular health care setting, either before or at the time of birth, where a health worker can deliver information to the mother and father”. “The rollout of our previous policy actually eroded the relationship we wanted”.
For example, Dr Lynne Richardson, who abstained from the vote, comments, “A very significant public health concern is served”.
As of now brochures in English and Yiddish, containing additional information, have been distributed in large numbers of up 44 thousand printed and emailed copies across New York City, in order to raise awareness.
New York City Health Board voted to ease regulations on Circumcision Ritual