September 13, 2012
N.Y. Board Orders Forms for Circumcision RiteHealth Officials Mandate Parental Consent for Metzitzah B'Peh
By Seth Berkman
The New York City board of health has voted unanimously to require parents to sign a consent form before allowing a mohel to perform metztizah b’peh, direct oral-genital suction during circumcision.
The vote was 9-0 to require parental consent for direct oral suction, a practice employed only by ultra-Orthodox mohels that can lead to transmission of a strain of herpes to which infants are especially vulnerable. Though transmission rates are believed to be low, If infected, babies can suffer brain damage or even death.
“We’re not banning the procedure, we’re not regulating how circumcisions are performed,” Jay K. Varma, deputy commissioner for disease control for the health department said after the meeting. “We’re simply requiring that people understand there is a risk, and if people want their baby to be circumcised, they have to understand that this procedure might potentially transmit an infection that is both serious as well as life threatening.”
There are no mandatory penalties imposed if the waivers are not signed. But the health commission may impose penalties at its own discretion. Varma said the department would respond to public complaints and investigate the claims, and that repercussions could range from a phone call or a formal warning letter, to fines of up to $2,000 for each violation.