N.Y.C. loosens rules on Jewish cir­cum­ci­sion rit­ual

Modern Healthcare - - REGIONAL NEWS - —Adam Ruben­fire

The New York City Board of Health has re­laxed its rules sur­round­ing a con­tro­ver­sial prac­tice used by ul­tra-Ortho­dox Jews dur­ing cir­cum­ci­sion.

The rit­ual, called met­z­itzah b’peh in He­brew, in­volves the oral suc­tion­ing of blood from a wound fol­low­ing cir­cum­ci­sion, which is tra­di­tion­ally done on the eighth day of a Jewish boy’s life. Though most rit­ual prac­ti­tion­ers use a ster­ile glass tube, a sponge or ster­ile gauze, the ul­tra-Ortho­dox prac­tice of oral blood suc­tion has been a highly po­lit­i­cal is­sue in New York, which is home to Amer­ica’s largest ul­tra-Ortho- dox Jewish pop­u­la­tion.

The city in 2012 en­acted an or­di­nance that re­quired par­ents to sign a con­sent form for the prac­tice, re­spond­ing to the cases of 17 in­fants who con­tracted the her­pes sim­plex virus fol­low­ing cir­cum­ci­sions that likely in­cluded the rit­ual. Two of those in­fants died. But last week, New York’s board re­pealed the con­sent form or­di­nance, in­stead opt­ing to ed­u­cate ul­tra­reli­gious Jews about the risks in­volved.

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