by Nora Bosworth
On Thursday a coalition of Jewish groups sued the city over the Department of Health’s regulation on an ultra-orthodox form of circumcision, mandating that parents provide written consent before going through with the procedure. The rule, implemented last month, refers solely to the circumciser’s ancient practice of using his mouth to suck the wound’s blood from the baby’s penis. Only select, ultra-orthodox communities still perform this in their circumcision rituals.
The suit claims that the mandate is an infringement on religious freedom, according to the New York Times. The case was filed in Federal District Court in Manhattan, and also maintains that the rite has gone on for thousands of years without health consequences. The Department of Health Commissioner stated in the Times, “The city’s highest obligation is to protect its children.” The bill came after the department learned that between 2004 and 2011, 11 babies contracted herpes attributed to the rite’s oral-to-genital contact, the Times reported. Herpes can be fatal for infants’ underdeveloped immune systems, and two of them died, while two others were left brain damaged.
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