De Blasio administration considering starting over on metzitzah b'peh

By Dan Goldberg (Politico)
March 12, 2017

The de Blasio administration is considering returning to the “drawing board” over metzitzah b’peh, the controversial circumcision practice during which a mohel sucks blood away from the wound.

The announcement follows the realization that the ultra orthodox community, which practices metzitzah, is not holding up its end of a handshake agreement made with the administration in 2015 when Mayor Bill de Blasio ended a Bloomberg-era policy that was anathema to the Hasidic sect.

The city’s Board of Health repealed the requirement that parents sign a consent form, which informed them of the dangers inherent in putting a mouth on an infant’s open wound, in exchange for information about mohels who infected children. These mohels were supposed to be tested and if their strain of herpes, which is common in adults but can be deadly in infants, matched the baby’s, then the mohels would be banned from performing circumcision for life.

Since the consent forms were repealed there have been six cases of neonatal herpes believed to be caused by the practice.

The most recent was reported last week and though the health department has spoken with the family, the mohel has not been identified.

“Given how protective families are of mohels and the practice of metzitzah, working with families and the community when there is a new case of neonatal herpes continues to be our better option,” the health department said in a statement. “That said, our main priority is to protect the health of babies, if the community is not living up to the deal announced in 2015, we’ll go back to the drawing board and start over.”