Court OKs rule requiring parental consent for oral-suction circumcision
The New York City Health Department recently placed a restrictive regulation on the religious tradition, requiring parents to provide actual consent prior to the performance of a particular type of circumcision that is common in the ultra-Orthodox community, and a Manhattan judge agreed.
A bris is a Jewish religious ceremony in which a male child is circumcised, on the eighth day of his birth, by a mohel, or ritual circumciser. During one variant of bris performed mainly in among Hasidim and the very Orthodox, known as “metzitzah b’peh,” the moehl performs direct oral suction of the infant’s penis to stop the flow of blood after the circumcision itself.
This practice has lead to some serious health concerns. Over the last several years, the Health Department learned of 11 cases of neo-natal herpes simplex viral infection in the weeks following circumcision due to direct oral suction; 10 newborns were hospitalized and two died.
To combat these grave health risks, Health Code 181.21 was issued requiring those performing this practice to obtain the written consent of the infant’s parent or guardian prior to performing the circumcision. The purpose of Health Code § 181.21 is to educate parents about the risks associated with direct oral suction, so that parents can make an informed decision about whether it should be performed as part of the circumcision.