Circumcisers Who Vow to Ignore Parents' Wishes Make Religious Ritual Even Scarier

Rant 48

bootiesAfter hearing about the unnecessary and tragic deaths of two infants who contracted herpes after undergoing a circumcision ritual in New York, I couldn't help but be appalled and heartbroken for those poor parents who trusted their mohels to perform the procedure safely. The mohels used a circumcision method called metzitzah b'peh, in which the mohel uses his mouth to stop the bleeding after the baby's foreskin is removed. In addition to the two babies who died after contracting herpes from their mohel, two others were left with devastating brain damage from the disease.

And now that there are Ultra-Orthodox rabbis who say they will defy a law (if it goes into act) that requires parental consent when this particular method of circumcision is going to be used, I'm absolutely outraged. Because those parents have every right to know exactly how their baby sons are going to be circumcised before allowing the ritual to take place.

I've attended a briss before, so I know just how important the circumcision ceremony is to Jewish parents. And even though the Ultra-Orthodox sector may have used the oral-suction circumcision method safely in the past, due to the recent deaths, parents should be the ones to decide how the mohel will perform the ritual on their son.

There have already been several complaints from parents who were unaware that oral-suction was going to be used during their sons' circumcisions. And if this new law goes into effect, they will be required to sign a consent form before allowing the method to take place.

And according to Rabbi David Neiderman, "This is the government forcing a rabbi practicing a religious ritual to tell his congregants it could hurt their child." He insists that the practice is safe, and also feels that the consent form forces parents to go against their belief system. He said, "Don’t force parents to sign something that is against their religious beliefs."

Ok, I'm a little bit confused. I'm no genius, but don't you think the parents who decide to sign the consent form are probably ok with the mohel using the oral-suction method of circumcision? The proposed law isn't being suggested to force anyone to go against their beliefs -- it's an effort to protect parents who are understandably worried about the health and safety of their infant and do not under any means want oral-suction used during their baby's circumcision.

It's not like this law would make the ritual illegal, it would simply make having the parents' consent a prerequisite. Since when is having the parents' permission before performing any sort of surgery a foreign thing? If anything, having the consent form will only protect the mohels should anything go wrong during the circumcision. The law is a win-win for everyone involved, especially for parents who want to honor their religion, yet protect their babies at the same time.

Do you think there should be a law requiring parental consent for this method of circumcision?


Image via handmaidenbymaria/Flickr



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Amanda Scott

You can't molest children and say it's your religious right - no matter what your religion!
And yes, parents should be prosecuted if they consented to the molestation of their children by priests. It's the same as if they allowed their neighbour to molest their children - religion does not excuse it!

Rachel Allender

I am really grossed out by this. I don't ever remember reading in the Bible that you need to suck on a baby's privates to stop the bleeding. Seems wrong in all sorts of ways. I realize they practice this because of old testament law but I think you could apply pressure some other way. 

Sarah York Mikesell

I'm not Jewish, so if somebody who is could please explain why this is a necessary part of the ceremony I may change my mind...  but if I saw a grown man put his mouth on an infant boy's penis no matter what the reason I'd have a HELLA BIG issue, religious ritual or not!  That is just gorss and we send men to prison for stuff like that any other time!

D Teela Morales-Bowers

According to my (admittedly limited)knowledge of jewish faith, the ultra-orthadox mainly follow the teachings of the torah, which supposedly corresponds with genesis-deutoronomy in the bible. circumcision is required but ingesting the blood of anything is explicitly condemned. Blood is not to be stored or cooked with, or imbibed. How can they suck the blood off the baby's penis and still be kosher? this sounds more like "tradition" than the "religion"

storm... stormcloud

I'm sorry but pedophilia is NOT a religious right. It is NOT religious freedom to sexually abuse a child. This is 2012 not 200 AD. Disgusting and anyone who participates in this form of circumsision ritual should be prosecuted for child molestation. Including the parents (If they know about it).

Angelica Medina

Um they need to outlaw this practice if you are going to get your kid circumcised a medical professional should do it with the proper tools no using some rusty knife and putting a penis in your mouth that is just sick. 

Nycti... Nyctimene

Sorry but if religion is going to interfere with government and it does all the time then I think government has every right to interfere in religion. As much as America might preach about the separation of church and state, it doesn't actually exist all in practice. Religious groups are some of the largest and most powerful government lobby groups out there.

Lots of religions hold archaic, inhumane, unjust and sexist traditions that have no place in the democratic, sexually-equal world of the 21st Century and those that continue to believe that it's fine to beat your wife or child because "this book says so" or adults to do any sort of touching of children's genitals because "that book says so" need to be stopped.

Religion does not and should never trump basic human rights. It's no secret that Herpes can and often does kill infants and that it's spread by just such contact as mouth-to-genital especially when there's a bleeding/open wound. Those boys had a right to life that was knowingly and purposelly tampered and chanced with under the guise of 'freedom of religion'.

Ginger Summerford Gorrell

Um.  I am trying to figure out how anyone can put their mouth on a child's genitals and be told "hey, just let mom and dad know first!"  If someone put their mouth on my son's penis, there'd be some  hell to pay.

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