Medical Study Shows that Orthodox Jewish Ritual Causes Neo-Natal Herpes.
The New York City Health Department has come out with reports that an ultra-orthodox Jewish circumcision ritual is causing neo-natal herpes.
The ritual, known as “metzitzah b’peh” involves sucking out blood from the incision by a mohel, the person who carries out the circumcision procedure.
The link between this practice and cases of neonatal herpes has been established earlier. In fact, the medical community has often criticized the ritual and raised concerns over it.
However, the ritual is still practiced today. In fact, in 2013, Mayor De Blasio even made a promise to the Hasidic community that he would lift the parental consent requirement needed for the ritual, if elected.
Earlier this week, health officials sent out an alert to doctors after a new case of neonatal herpes had been registered. The affected infant had been in the hospital for two weeks. Fortunately, he is believed to be recovering now.
The Health Department reports that, since 2000, around 24 cases of neonatal herpes have been linked with the ritual. Among these cases, two of the infants were said to have died, while two other were affected with brain damage.
There were three more cases reported in 2015.
Statistics indicate that an estimated 3000 infants undergo circumcision as part of the Jewish tradition, in New York City. The city is also, incidentally, home to the largest Jewish population after Israel. However, metzitzah b’peh is not included in a majority of Jewish circumcision ceremonies.
Mayor De Blasio reports that he has called for an investigation into the matter. He has stated that officials are trying to identify the mohel who was responsible for the latest case of neonatal herpes.
The Freedom from Religion Foundation has also come out against the practice. In fact, members had written to the city in 2014, requesting that the practice be banned. The FFRF states that banning the practice would not interfere with anybody’s rights and that freedom of religion does not entail the right to endanger the lives of infants.
The FFRF believes that a ban would support government interests; in this case, the protection of children’s rights to health and life. The foundation believes that the government should create a neutral and general law that is tailored to target the health aspect of the issue, rather than the religious aspect.