Briefly but vividly imagine this: At your request, a trusted member of your religion removes the foreskin of your newborn son and then … dips his head down and PLACES HIS MOUTH onto the open wound. You really have to hope there are no communicable diseases on his lips or floating around in his saliva, because there would be no better time to pass them along.
According to the New York City Dept. of Health and Mental Hygiene, it happens.
At least 11 New York infants are thought to have contracted herpes from the practice, two of whom died and two of whom have irreversible brain damage …
But to the rabbis performing it, the procedure is absolutely safe.
The NYC Dept. of Health disagrees just enough that it has scheduled a vote in coming weeks on a measure that will do nothing to stop the practice, but only require parental consent.
The Department of Health argues parents should be informed of the risks before making a decision. Since 2004, it has received “multiple complaints from parents who were not aware that direct oral suction was going to be performed as part of their sons’ circumcisions,” according to a public notice. The law would require mohels to explain the oral suction procedure and its risks, including the possible transmission of herpes simplex virus, and have parents sign a waiver.
Cue the outrage. Oh noes, you’re destroying our freedom of religion! New York rabbis say they will refuse to tell parents about the risks.
Whatever you think of the practice — I think it’s barbaric, and more than a little disgusting — you kinda have to gasp at the arrogance of men who feel they have the right to deny parents information that would help them make decisions about their kids’ health.
If an ice cream manufacturer refused to put peanuts on the ingredients list, so that parents of peanut-allergic children could make an informed decision about buying the ice cream, they’d be out of business in about two weeks.
But because this is religion, it’s somehow different.