New Agreement Waives Informed Consent for Bris Milah

A new tentative agreement between the De Blasio administration and a coalition of rabbinical leaders from across New York City has waived the mandated ‘informed consent’ form.

by Chaim Shaprio – Yeshiva World News

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration, which came into power a year ago with a promise to reconsider an existing regulation on Metzitzah B’peh, has now fulfilled that promise.

Mayor de Blasio said he reached the new arrangement after long negotiations with rabbinical leaders. Under the new policy, the city will engage local health care providers to educate the Jewish community about the risk of a cold sore, caused by the herpes simplex one virus, causing a herpes infection of the child’s genitals.

“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,” Mr. de Blasio’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.”

A 2012 report by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised against the practice, saying it increases the risk of herpes infection in baby boys by 3.4 times that of other male newborns.

Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel, executive vice president of Agudath Israel of America told YWN “The Bloomberg Administration’s regulation of metzitzah b’peh represented the first and only time in the history of the United States that government has sought to regulate an aspect of bris milah. Our Gedolei Yisroel felt that this was intolerable, and could lead to other governmental incursions on bris milah, and so instructed us to mount a legal challenge against the regulation. It is to Mayor de Blasio’s eternal credit that he recognized how profoundly offensive the regulation was to our community, and worked with us to undo the terrible precedent his predecessor had established.”

Rabbi David Niederman, President United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg and North Brooklyn told YWN:

“I’m thankful to Mayor de Blasio and his entire administration, specifically Deputy Mayor Lilliam Barrios-Paoli, the Mayor’s senior aide Avi Fink and the Department of Health, for doing what it is right, eliminating this Consent Form, which was intrusive and violated our freedom of religion and speech,” said Rabbi David Niederman.

“From day one, Mayor de Blasio showed an eagerness to work with all communities towards fair policies that will deliver the best results for the entire city. Today’s action is a result of that noble vision and hard work. We are profoundly thankful to the mayor for that, and we are thanking Hashem that our religious freedom prevailed. Today’s action rebuilds the trust necessary to work together for the safety of all. It’s a victory for religious freedom and a victory for public policy.”

NYC Councilman David Greenfield told YWN, “I applaud the administration for agreeing to respect the religious freedoms of all New York’s communities. Separation of church and state is a two-way street. It is significant that the administration is agreeing to do away with ineffective measures put in place by Mayor Bloomberg, and instead embraced an informational campaign that has proven effective in other parts of the country. This is a big victory for our community.”

7 Comments

  • 1. Yasher Koach rabbi levi heber wrote:

    Yasher Koach rabbi levi heber
    A very big yasher Koach goes to our very own Chabad mohel rabbi levi heber. Who worked tirelessly at the forefront and behind the scenes in making sure this law was abolished. a big credit is due to him litovas klal Yisroel. Tizke lmitzvos

  • 2. THE most relevant question: wrote:

    Has there EVER been a case of an infant being infected with this disease, in which it has been conclusively proven, by DNA match, that the source of the infection was MBP from the mohel who performed the bris milah?

  • 3. Milhouse wrote:

    An important part of the agrerement is that if a baby is ch”v diagnosed with HSV-1 after a bris in which metzitzah was done without a straw, the mohel will voluntarily submit to a test, and if he is carrying a virus with the same DNA as the baby’s virus then he will permanently retire from milah, on the assumption that the baby got it from him.

    Thus, if the city is right about where these cases are coming from the responsible mohalim will remove themselves, the danger will be abated for a while, and the number of infections should drop. On the other hand if the city’s theory is wrong then all the mohalim will remain in practice as they should, and the number of infections will unfortunately remain the same until the city looks elsewhere for the cause.

  • 5. Boruch Hashem wrote:

    We can once again show our love for Hashem’s Mitzvos! MBP, MBD and herpes burpies ken gein feifen.

  • 6. Dr. Binyomin Nemon wrote:

    I have felt that previous charges of neonatal HSV infection (which granted, can have catastrophic consequences—herpetic encephelitis, etc.) allegedly acquired from Mohel by MBP, have been suspect (were mothers subsequently screened for HSV?—~80% of population is positive for HSV I and ~15% of population for HSV II).

    In light of all this, I will throw in my 2 cents, and advise Mohalim 1) get screened for HSV I and II, 2) JUST prior to Bris, gargle for 3 full minutes with Listerine (or generics), 3) in the event that a mohel has/develops a cold/canker sore/herpetic lesion in/around mouth prior to a bris, then absolutely REFRAIN from performing MBP (enlist father or other surrogate to perform MBP, or use a tube).

  • 7. paperworker wrote:

    Was principle of Informed Consent waived entirely? Or was it just the form-filling ritual?

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