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New York Backs Down on Consent Forms for Circumcision Rite

The New York City Board of Health repealed a consent form for a controversial circumcision rite.

The vote Wednesday to repeal the consent form to allow the metzitzah b’peh rite was 9-1,with one abstention.

A law requiring parents to sign a consent form for metzitzah b’peh was enacted in 2012 under Mayor Michael Bloomberg after at least 11 boys contracted herpes from the practice between 2004 and 2011. Two died and two suffered brain damage.

There were four cases of herpes allegedly contracted during metzitzah b’peh in 2014 and 17 since 2000, according to the health department.

For the most part, however, the law has not been enforced and city officials are using community outreach to educate parents about herpes and other health risks associated with the rite, Newsday reported.

Metzitzah b’peh, a ritual in which the mohel sucks blood from the wound following circumcision, is a common traditional practice among many haredi Orthodox mohels. When performed directly with the mouth as opposed to through a sterile pipette, it has been linked directly to the transmission of the herpes virus.

In August, a federal appeals court called for a review of the New York City law related to metzitzah b’peh, saying that under the federal guarantee of free exercise of religion, the law is subject to “strict scrutiny.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio reportedly has been behind to push to resolve the issue in an effort to improve relations with the haredi Orthodox community.

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