NY mayor seeks to regulate circumcision practice

Mayor Bloomberg wants to enforce a requirement for parental consent for the controversial practice of metziza bipeh.

September 13, 2012 13:59
1 minute read.
Rabbi holds boy for circumcision

Rabbi holds boy for circumcision. (photo credit: REUTERS)

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg wants to regulate and restrict the practice of metzitza b’peh, a ritual used by some ultra-Orthodox Jews in circumcision, the online New York Sun reported on Wednesday.

Metzitza b’peh is a practice where in the mohel applies direct oral suction to the still-open circumcision wound.

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While the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene recognizes the health benefits of circumcision and does not seek to ban it, it wants to enforce a requirement for a written waiver or consent from parents before the metzitza b’peh part of the ritual can be done, according to the report.

Bloomberg rejected pleas from leaders of the Orthodox Jewish community in New York – the Agudath Israel of America chairman, Rabbi Gedaliah Weinberger, and its executive director, Rabbi Dovid Zwiebel – to cooperate and consult with them on the practicing of metzitza b’peh, the Sun reported.

The mayor’s health commissioner, Dr. Thomas Farley, replied to the pleas, quoting the US Supreme Court’s remark in a 1944 child labor case that “the right to practice religion freely does not include the liberty to expose the community or the child to communicable disease or the latter to ill-health or death,” according to the report.

In California, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill in 2011 protecting circumcision after a failed attempt to outlaw male circumcision in San Francisco.

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