NEW YORK CITY: Jewish Groups Sue Over New Circumcision Disclaimer Law
Last month the New York City Department of Health issued a new ordinance requiring parents to sign a disclaimer avowing that they are aware of the risks regarding the "snip-n-suck" circumcisions performed by some Orthodox rabbis. Yesterday Jewish groups filed suit to block the new law.
In the procedure, common among ultra-Orthodox Jews, the person performing the circumcision uses his mouth to remove blood from the incision. The oral contact, known in Hebrew as metzitzah b’peh, is considered dangerous by public health officials, because of the possibility of spreading diseases, specifically herpes. Failure to comply with the regulation could result in warnings and fines. From 2000 to 2011, 11 babies contracted herpes, most likely as a result of the practice, and two of them died, according to the city’s health department. This spring, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also declared that the procedure created a risk for transmission of herpes and other pathogens, and was “not safe.” In the lawsuit, filed in Federal District Court in Manhattan, several rabbis and Jewish organizations — including Agudath Israel of America and the International Bris Association — argue that the practice has been used safely for thousands of years among Jews and that the regulations are unconstitutional.The city says the new law is a matter of public safety.