Judge Blocks Circumcision Rite Form for Now

Federal Judge Puts Hold on Metzitzah B'peh Rule

By JTA

Published October 18, 2012.
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A temporary restraining order against New York delayed the start of a new informed consent requirement for a controversial circumcision rite.

On Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald in New York ordered the stay of implementing the required warning to parents of the dangers of metzitzah b’peh, a ritual in which the circumciser uses his mouth to draw blood from the baby’s penis.

The informed consent requirement was scheduled to go into effect on Oct. 21, but the stay delays the implementation until Nov. 14, the date of the next court hearing.

The Central Rabbinical Congress of the United States and Canada, the International Bris Association and several individual circumcisers filed a lawsuit on Oct. 11 against the city, which contends that the regulation, which conditions the ritual on parental consent, is unconstitutional and violates religious freedom by targeting a Jewish practice.

Under the rule, parents must sign a consent form that says the health department advises that “direct oral suction should not be performed” because of the risk of contracting herpes.

At least 11 boys contracted herpes from the practice between 2004 and 2011, according to city health officials. Two of them died from the disease and two others suffered brain damage, they said.

Using oral suction to take blood from the area of the circumcision wound is common in some of New York’s haredi Orthodox Jewish communities.


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