Monday, March 9, 2015

NEW YORK: Metzitzah: No consent forms, mohelim tested after infection

Jewish Press
February 24, 2015

Mayor de Blasio Annuls Metzitzah B’peh Consent Form Regulation

by Jacob Kornbluh
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio has decided to annul the regulation enforced by the Bloomberg administration on the practice of Metzitzah B’peh, JP has learned.

The city has agreed to no longer require that a mohel obtain a signed consent form before he is allowed to perform the ritual. The City will support a Board of Health consideration to repeal the health code provision regarding written consent, the mayor’s office announced Tuesday evening.

“While the de Blasio Administration continues to believe that MBP carries with it health risks, given the sacred nature of this ritual to the community, the Administration is pursuing a policy centered around education of health risks by the health care community and respect for traditional practices by the religious community,” the mayor’s office said in a statement. “Increasing trust and communication between the City and this community is critical to achieve the Administration’s ultimate goal of ensuring the health and safety of every child, and this new policy seeks to establish a relationship based on engagement and mutual respect.”

During the race for mayor, de Blasio criticized former mayor Michael Bloomberg’s attitude and enforcement of the new consent regulation on Metzitzah B’peh. He promised Jewish leaders that he will seek to find a solution the moment he will enter office. After entering office, the mayor engaged in discussions with community leaders and health officials to reach a compromise that will satisfy the Orthodox Jewish community over the Bris Milah dispute with City Hall.

At a get-out-the vote rally in Williamsburg two days before the Democratic primaries for mayor, Satmar (Ahronim) community leaders declared that de Blasio pledged to eliminate the consent forms required for Metzitzah B’peh. As first reported by JP, one community leader told the crowd assembled that de Blasio was “the first one in politics to come to our defense on the issue of Metzitzah B’peh. And he’s the only candidate that recommitted himself now to guarantee that we as Orthodox Jews can practice [it] without compromise.”

After Mr. de Blasio has finished his speech, Rabbi Moshe Indiq approached the microphone and said he’d been asked “to announce to our community” that Mr. de Blasio was “the only mayor candidate that promised … it will be eliminated!”

According to the new deal reached with a coalition of Rabbinical leaders from across New York City, the administration will ask hospitals, obstetricians and pediatricians who serve the community to distribute information about the health risks associated with and MBP. Health care providers will also provide parents with contact information for the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) for parents who seek additional information.

Additionally, the community will direct mohelim to continue to respect the wishes of any family that has chosen to not have MBP performed on their son.

In return, the rabbinical coalition has pledged, for the first time, to cooperate with the DOHMH in identifying the mohel in question and asking the individual to undergo testing in cases where an infant has HSV-1 (herpes simplex virus 1) associated with MBP.

In cases where the mohel tests positive for HSV-1, DOHMH will conduct DNA testing to attempt to definitively establish the source of the baby’s infection as part of a comprehensive investigation of any other possible sources. If the mohel is found to have infected the infant with herpes, he will be banned for life from performing MBP by DOHMH, with support from and cooperation of the community.

The community has also agreed to engage in campaign to have every mohel who performs a circumcision or MBP take steps to lessen the risk of transmission of herpes.

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