Newly minted New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner dodged a question at a mayoral debate last night on the controversial Jewish circumcision practice known as metzitzah b’peh.
The practice, which entails direct oral suction on an infant’s circumcised penis, has been blamed in a handful of cases of herpes. The city’s health department, under the urging of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, has instituted a regulation requiring parents to sign a consent form indicating that they are aware of the risk of herpes transmission before the practice can take place.
The Democratic mayoral candidates have previously mostly said that they support the regulation.
Weiner, when asked about his position on the consent forms at a forum in Manhattan Beach, didn’t address the question directly.
“For me, it comes down to my values as someone who believes in the ethos of New York, and part of that ethos of New York is we all come from different places, we bring different cultures, we bring different ideas,” Weiner said.
In his response, Weiner also cited a 2005 Forward report from his previous run for mayor in which he said that he opposed city regulation of the practice.
“It is not the place of the department of health to be deciding on a religious practice,” he told the Forward at the time.
Josh Nathan-Kazis is a staff writer for the Forward. He covers charities and politics, and writes investigations and longform.