New York City’s Board of Health repealed a controversial rule requiring parents sign a consent form before a Mohel could practice metzitzah b’peh.
The majority of the board, led by health commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett, felt the consent forms were ineffective and doing more harm than good.
The policy, enacted during the Bloomberg administration, incensed members of the Orthodox community, who felt it violated their religious freedom and disputed the connection between putting one’s mouth on an open wound and neonatal herpes, which can be life-threatening for an infant. The community refused to follow the board’s rules and the health department never figured a way to enforce its own policy.
Following the ruling the Central Rabbinical Congress of The USA And Canada, Agudath Israel of America, International Bris Association released the following statement:
Thank G-d for the outcome of today’s vote.
We are grateful to the Board of Health for closing this unfortunate chapter in what otherwise is this great city’s shining history of tolerance and of protecting religious liberty while safeguarding public health. We thank Mayor de Blasio for his sensitivity to our community’s concerns and for his firm leadership on this vital issue. Thanks also to the mayor’s office, and especially Deputy Mayor Paoli – may she have much success in her new endeavor.
There are many people who contributed to this effort and we thank them all, but some we feel compelled to specifically recognize. First, we are deeply grateful to our lawyers, Shay Dvoretzky and Yaakov Roth of Jones Day: the work they did for us was simply outstanding. To the individual plaintiffs, experts and amici who lent their names and reputations to our effort – thank you for your time, your dedication and your friendship. Special thanks to all the rabbis and community leaders who were involved in this effort, whose wisdom and guidance provided direction throughout. We are particularly grateful for the broad coalition of supporters our cause engendered, and for the strong sense of unity that prevailed amongst us as we moved forward.
This regulation of an aspect of bris milah, the practice of ritual circumcision that has been a foundation of the Jewish religion for thousands of years, was the first of its kind in the history of the United States. As a result of today’s vote, it is now off the books. For all who treasure religious freedom, and are truly committed to the health and wellbeing of our children, this is cause for celebration.
— Erin Billups (@ErinEBillups) September 9, 2015