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Yes, It's Still Perfectly Legal To Suck Babies' Genitals During Circumcision

Yes, It's Still Perfectly Legal To Suck Babies' Genitals During Circumcision

Mayor Michael Bloomberg's proposed super-sized soda ban isn't the only controversial topic that is going to be discussed by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene this week.

Today, the Department is talking about the metzitzah b'peh -- a circumcision practice during which ritual practitioners "place their mouths directly on the child's circumcision wound to draw blood away from the circumcision cut."

And what exactly are they doing? The 11-member panel is listening to public comments on a "proposal to require parental consent for circumcisions practiced by ultra-Orthodox Jews," according to the Wall Street Journal.

Why? Well, between 2000 and 2011, 11 infants got herpes from this ritual. Ten infants were hospitalized, "at least two developed brain damage, and two babies died," the DOH reports.

If, for whatever reason, you missed that info, here it is again: Between 2001 and 2011, 11 infants got herpes from this ritual. Ten infants were hospitalized, "at least two developed brain damage, and two babies died."

Here's the thing: The proposed legislation wouldn't even ban the practice, which seems to avoid tougher regulation because of questionable arguments about religious freedom.

(Some Jewish law experts disagree that the practice is even sanctioned in the Talmud.)

Rather, it would just require parents to sign something recognizing the procedures risks.

A consent form!

That's it!

Again, to reiterate: The DOH, though it has come out against the practice, is not trying to ban it.

The Department just wants to make sure that parents know what's going on.

Parents would still be able to subject their kids to physical danger to fulfill their faithfulness.

Anyway, we couldn't make the hearing, and the DOH just told us that they're not releasing any statements about the discussion. The Department did say, though, that it will likely issue a decision in September.

However, there are some more facts that make you wonder why this procedure -- performed on 20,500 baby boys yearly -- remains so unregulated, considering that it sure seems to endanger children.

Notes the Daily Mail, "infants who were circumcised with suction between April 2006 and December 2012 had a risk of catching neonatal herpes (HSV-1) infection of 24.4 per 100,000."

Also, here's this quote from DOH Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley: "There is no safe way to perform oral suction on any open wound in a newborn...parents considering ritual Jewish circumcision need to know that circumcision should only be performed under sterile conditions, like any other procedures that create open cuts, whether by mohelim or medical professionals."

Follow Victoria Bekiempis @vicbekiempis.


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