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It Is Dangerous To Allow Men To Provide 'Oral Suction' To Freshly Circumcized Infants

02021210[NOTE: This post was briefly removed from the website due to a technical issue with one of Towleroad's ad networks. Sorry for the confusion.]

There is a growing sentiment in New York City that it is not, in fact, advisable to mutilate an infant's privates and then suck the blood from the wound with one's mouth.

So suggests this story, published yesterday at

New York City health officials are pushing a proposed regulation that would require parents to sign a consent waiver before they take part in a circumcision ritual called "metzitzah b'peh," typically practiced by ultra-Orthodox Jews. The ritual potentially poses a fatal risk to newborns, according to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

The legislation was proposed at a Board of Health meeting last month by Dr. Jay K. Varma, deputy commissioner for disease control for New York City's health department, after 11 infants contracted neonatal herpes between November 2000 and December 2011, after the circumcision ritual. Two of the infants died.

Jews regularly practice circumcision as part of their religion, but mostly ultra-Orthodox Jews practice metzitzah b'peh, during which the mohel, or person performing the procedure, orally sucks the blood from the infant's newly circumcised [member].

A statement issued last month by the New York City Health Department notes that ten of the children who contracted herpes after the metzitzah b'peh were hospitalized. Of the eight who survived, two suffer from permanent brain damage. Approximately 2,000 infants per year undergo the metzitzah b'peh in New York City.


The Department of Health is accepting public comments on the proposed regulation until a public hearing July 23. At the hearing, there will be a public forum where the board will consider all comments and make a final vote September 13.

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  1. Mutilate?

    Posted by: Daniel | Jul 8, 2012 2:06:16 PM

  2. I've always thought this was barbaric, but Im surprised how this is just now becoming an issue. Im glad it is, but you can't help but wonder if the Orthodox's recent rants about homosexuality and other conservative nonsense hasn't really brought this down on their heads. Either way, Im glad. As a Jew who was raised reformed and in NO way Orthodox I get the nod to tradition and culture but this is craziness and it's ridiculous to let it continue.

    Posted by: DrJWL | Jul 8, 2012 2:18:09 PM

  3. So wait a minute… unregulated surgery performed by unlicensed and untrained people with herpes under unhygienic circumstances is *bad* for you? Who would have thought?

    If there weren't a religious componant to ths nonsense, everyone involved would be in jail for various reasons. That really ought to tell us something,

    Posted by: Dave | Jul 8, 2012 2:22:16 PM

  4. So... How does one in the faith go about learning how to perform the said ritual? The Catholic diocese would like to know...

    Posted by: 99% | Jul 8, 2012 2:23:48 PM

  5. That is just about the most dangerous, gross thing I think I've heard. Who in their right mind ...

    Posted by: Craig | Jul 8, 2012 2:26:16 PM

  6. The Catholic church has been performing this ritual for years, but with the foreskin intact. I think its what draws many into the priesthood.

    Posted by: DrJWL | Jul 8, 2012 2:27:28 PM

  7. mu·ti·late   [myoot-l-eyt]
    1. to injure, disfigure, or make imperfect by removing or irreparably damaging parts: Vandals mutilated the painting.
    2. to deprive (a person or animal) of a limb or other essential part.

    So yes, it would be accurate to call circumcision a mutilation. Reducing the functionality of the male sex organ qualifies.

    Posted by: Dan | Jul 8, 2012 2:28:08 PM

  8. Not to mention, just plain icky.

    Posted by: Kenn I | Jul 8, 2012 2:35:50 PM

  9. i just threw up.

    frankly i'm stunned that circumcisions are still being done on infants. it's your kid's penis, not yours. leave it the f**k alone.

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Jul 8, 2012 2:36:28 PM

  10. Circumcision is so insane. There are no real health benefits of circumcision and the majority of people that I have encountered that support circumcision have no good reason besides, "I want them to look like their Dad". Not a single medical society explicitly supports circumcision. I convinced a friend of mine to not get her son circumcised because after 10 minutes of research together she was shocked at the many many risks associated with circumcision.

    Posted by: andypharmer | Jul 8, 2012 2:42:05 PM

  11. Meanwhile the Vatican is kicking itself thinking "why didn't we think of this first?! It's not sex abuse! It's religious freedom!"

    Posted by: topdawg | Jul 8, 2012 2:45:49 PM

  12. Yet they won't eat pork.

    Posted by: russ | Jul 8, 2012 2:51:33 PM

  13. Puleese...the ironical joke potential is too temptingly easy to indulge.

    Posted by: UFFDA | Jul 8, 2012 2:54:17 PM

  14. I wonder why they don't require the rabbis to undergo monthly herpes testing and present their latest results to the parents beforehand.

    Posted by: BobN | Jul 8, 2012 3:01:35 PM

  15. "a proposed regulation that would require parents to sign a consent waiver"

    That's it? Why doesn't the regulation impose sanitary measures and licensing requirements for practitioners? Why should newborns have less protection than tattoo parlor clients? And why don't existing sex abuse laws apply?

    Posted by: JJ | Jul 8, 2012 3:03:59 PM

  16. I know of absolutely no reason why "unregulated surgery performed by unlicensed and untrained people with herpes, under unhygienic circumstances" should be protected as religious freedom. The idea that grown men who know they have herpes put their mouths on the open wound of a baby's penis is shear lunacy. They probably got herpes by putting their mouths on adult penises. They should be prosecuted for manslaughter.

    Posted by: belo | Jul 8, 2012 3:06:50 PM

  17. Are these the same ultra orthodox freaks who think gay marriage is the real threat to children? WOW.

    Posted by: ChrisQ | Jul 8, 2012 3:12:04 PM

  18. The Ultra Orthodox, the same people that throw stones at non-Jewish women who traverse their neighborhoods for being dressed inappropriately.

    All of the crazy Judeo-Christian sects trace their roots back to Germany/Eastern Europe. Hasidics, Hutterites, Amish, etc. on ONLY the last 300-400 hundred years.

    Food for thought.

    Posted by: QJ201 | Jul 8, 2012 3:18:10 PM

  19. It's barbaric. And yes, it's mutilation and all health insurance companies and the government should stop funding this practice [circumcision at birth] of the sexual mutilation of boys. I understand it's a religious practice among Jews and Muslims, but it shouldn't be forced on millions of infant boys under the guise it helps with good hygiene. I think the rel reasons this caught on especially in the U.S. are far more nefarious and come down to $.

    There are in fact many good points to getting circumcised, especially if a guys foreskin is too tight. But that should be a personal choice of a post-pubescent young man or adult male.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Jul 8, 2012 3:18:31 PM

  20. Re. medical indications for circumcision - it seems to reduce the risk of F->M transmission of HIV (proposed reason: there are loads of macrophages - with CD4 receptors - in foreskin.) It is being done in record numbers in sub-Saharan Africa to combat the spread of HIV.

    With M->M transmission, is it thought that an HIV negative top would have less of a chance of contracting HIV from a positive bottom if the top were uncircumcised? That I don't know.

    Posted by: bravo | Jul 8, 2012 3:19:37 PM

  21. I suppose a condom with a one-way blood valve might help, but wouldn't it be easier to just stop playing Vampire Pederast?

    Better yet, require written consent of the mutilated party. Since infants can't write, and minors aren't competent to give consent anyway, only the most devout will volunteer to be mutilated at age 18. They'd even be free to get herpes if they wanted the full experience. Which is as it should be.

    Posted by: Anastasia Beaverhausen | Jul 8, 2012 3:24:29 PM

  22. I did some research on HSV and mohels having them, and what I found was intriguing.

    First, HSV-1 (the more common, non-sexual form of HSV) can be contracted via respiratory droplets or direct exposure to infected saliva, i.e. a mohel (the one performing the act) need not have been sexually deviant to have contracted the disease. In fact, according to researchers, approximately 65% of the United States population is seropositive (positive based on the serum in their blood) for HSV-1 by the fourth decade of life (see

    Next, people can be seropositive BUT not positive based on oral swobs (see Also, because HSV can lay latent in one's blood without any notable symptoms or may even be asymptomatic, the mohel performing the oral suction may not even be aware that he has HSV. Further, there may be a misconception that HSV may be 'healed' from. That is not true as there is no 'cure'. HSV stays in your body, you're only protected from it because of antibodies. It never goes away completely.

    Lastly, as to whether mohels should be tested prior to performing the act, imho, they should. Now that the risk of transmission has been made known to the community, only uninfected mohels should be able to continue performing the act. This may be a possible way to balance public health considerations and religious freedom.

    Posted by: JT | Jul 8, 2012 3:29:27 PM

  23. @ AB

    agree but 16 as vs your stated 18

    16 is sufficient for someone to make the decision and give their consent to get such done and it does insure that said person is a true believer as vs someone who might later become Reform which to the ultra-orthedox is worse than being goy

    anyway; I also think the voting and drinking age should be dropped to 16

    Posted by: say what | Jul 8, 2012 3:33:46 PM

  24. It takes the ultra-religious to turn cock-sucking into a virtue.

    Posted by: Ben in Oakland | Jul 8, 2012 3:38:23 PM

  25. The transmission of HIV (unless there is a large population with the disease, such as some areas of Sub-Saharan Africa) is a silly reason to get circumcised. That's like saying, a woman has a 0.1% chance of getting breast cancer, so let's remove her mammary tissue so that the chance is reduced to 0.01%. The fact is that the majority of the world is not circumcised and practicing safe sexual practices is much more logical vs. cutting off a natural body part.

    Posted by: andypharmer | Jul 8, 2012 3:39:20 PM

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