Friday, February 27, 2015

Circumcision and Herpes Infection in New York

Flash!! The City of New York has just instituted a new regulation that permits the performance of female circumcision (more-often referred to as female genital mutilation.)  If, however, the procedure results in major genital deformity, pain, and/or permanent painful uro-genital complications, the person responsible for the procedure will be permanently banned from future performance of the procedure.

Of course, female genital mutilation is a banned procedure in New York, as well as in the entire United States, and the above paragraph is total fantasy, but, believe it or not, would parallel what New York City has now decided is the correct way to cope with the issue of transmission of the potentially fatal Herpes virus to orthodox Jewish male newborns undergoing ritual circumcision, including the horror of MBP (metzitzah b'peh) - the oral sucking of penile blood by a Herpes-infected mohel (ritual performer of the circumcision).

The City has decided to permit MBP to go forward unchecked.  If the infant develops Herpes, the infected mohel will be banned from performing future procedures.  The city, then, has decided not to proactively attempt to prevent the infection of newborns, but to allow the infection to take place and  to punish the perpetrator retroactively.

Among radical orthodox Jewish sects, the rabbis have come to play the major role in the health and welfare of the community's infant children.  They are convinced that their religious beliefs outweigh medical risks and will not even permit the screening for the virus among the MBP performers.  It is disquieting to see them play such a negative role in the politics of New York City - and it brings to mind the negative role they exert on the politics of Israel.

These communities vote as blocs and have major political clout in New York City, similar to the  clout they exert in the State of Israel.  The mayor of New York, Bill DeBlasio, has chosen to ignore what is clearly in the best medical interest of these infants and to proceed with what is in the best political interest of DeBlasio and the rabbis.

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