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.


  1. DrJWL says

    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.

  2. Dave says

    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,

  3. 99% says

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

  4. Craig says

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

  5. DrJWL says

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

  6. Dan says

    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.

  7. says

    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.

  8. andypharmer says

    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.

  9. topdawg says

    Meanwhile the Vatican is kicking itself thinking “why didn’t we think of this first?! It’s not sex abuse! It’s religious freedom!”

  10. BobN says

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

  11. JJ says

    “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?

  12. belo says

    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.

  13. ChrisQ says

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

  14. QJ201 says

    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.

  15. ratbastard says

    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.

  16. bravo says

    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.

  17. says

    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.

  18. JT says

    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.

  19. say what says

    @ 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

  20. andypharmer says

    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.

  21. Mike says

    The health arguments for circumcision are always shifting, and then one looks deeper, one finds flawed studies showing marginal benefits. Even after that, one must question the logic of permanently removing a baby’s (supposedly useless) body part in anticipation of a possible health consequence. No one advocates post-natal appendectomies.

    I understand that this debate quickly descends into the muck of anti-semitic and anti-Islamic bigotry… I opposed the SF ballot initiative because a segment of the people supporting it were making ugly arguments… but I am happy that more people have decided not to do this to their non-consenting boys. And in my opinion, circumcision *should* be outlawed if the practice is not done for religious reasons.

  22. Ken says

    Circumcision on children should be banned completely. Let him decided if he wants it when he is an adult. Mutilating your baby should not be allow under “religious freedom”.

  23. Wyett Earp says

    The more conservative the religion, the more perverted their rituals are. You wonder why they are so sensitive about homosexuals. Since they zero in on our bedroom practice.

  24. Nat says

    I don’t support an outright ban on routine infant circumcision, but I certainly find some of the reasoning strange, especially the “I think he should look like his father” reasoning.

    Why does my son’s penis have to resemble mine? What possible benefit does that confer to either one of us?

  25. Nat says

    I don’t support an outright ban on routine infant circumcision, but I certainly find some of the reasoning strange, especially the “I think he should look like his father” reasoning.

    Why does my son’s penis have to resemble mine? What possible benefit does that confer to either one of us?

  26. jim says

    It’s one thing (and a bad enough one, imo) to circumcise, but to SUCK THE BLOOD OFF THE BABY’S SNIPPED PEEN?? Religion be damned, that’s just downright f*@ked!

  27. Michaelandfred says

    The German constitutional court ruled recently that circumcision is an assault on the infant, religion or not, and is a criminal offense on the child. Amen. Over 100 infants a year in American die due to circumcision and hundreds more have medical issues because of it.

    It amazes me that people freak out when Oprah has mothers who give their children nose jobs but nobody even considers that most male babies undergo a beauty operation shortly after birth that can cause death or severe complications. AND removes a third of the nerves that cause sensitivity and pleasure. We go ballistic over African tribes performing partial female circumcisions while millions of male babies are lined up on the altar of the insurance express lane. Ka-ching! Next!

  28. ? says

    “AND removes a third of the nerves that cause sensitivity and pleasure.”

    How’s it even possible to compare the “difference” in sensitivity between circumcised and uncircumcised men? I don’t know of a single circumcised man (myself included) who DOESN’T find sex highly pleasurable.

    And would it be un-PC if I say I consider Judaism to be just a sect?

  29. says

    I’m pissed that my parents mutilated my body for no God damn reason at all, but pissed wouldn’t described how I’d feel if I were one of those kids, where my parents hired a guy to mutilate my body then proceed to give me an STD before becoming I was aware of my surrounding!

  30. Tom Cardellino says

    Just one more astounding argument for atheism! That this fellatio of a newborn that was just assaulted with a razor is “questionably legal” proves that people prefer not to think for themselves or even for the benefit of their own flesh and blood. In this “religious ritual” I guess saliva laden with bacteria and viruses aplenty is indeed thicker than blood. Nonsense is truly too weak of a term to describe this routine INSANITY!

  31. Jew says

    “Mutilate” is obviously a charged word, and you should think twice about going there. Last time I checked, this was a gay-interest blog, not a “intactivist” blog. Sure, reasonable people can disagree on the propriety of (the non-fellatio sort of) circumcision, but when you start attacking a common religious practice embraced by mainstream Jews and Muslims for thousands of years as “mutilation,” you distract from this blog’s mission, to say the least.

  32. says

    I guess it really isn’t any more disgusting than going to church every week and pretending to drink Christ’s blood or eat his flesh.

  33. Lee says

    Wow lots of anti Semites fact is being cut is no more dangerous than temoving wisdom teeth and it helps keep STD rates down. Ad FYI looks so much better no one likes the turtle neck

  34. wackadoo says

    These people are so blinded by their faith that they’ll allow an old man to suck on their infant son’s bloody penis. THIS IS SO DISGUSTING!

  35. andrew says

    Like all religious practices and rituals this should only be found in history books not in the lives of 21st century rational human beings.

  36. Tanoka says


    Anything else you think we should cut off? You know, since your opinion on what a body should look like is more important than a kid’s right to have an intact body?

    FACT: Condoms keep STD rates down.
    FACT: Crying about anti-Semitism the second anoyne critisize cutting off body parts makes you look like a brainwashed, religious nutter.
    FACT: Your religious freedoms ends when it infringes upon another’s. (OK, so this is not a fact, but it SHOULD Be!)

  37. TJ says

    Ritualized cannibalism on top of genital mutilation – but it’s okay because it’s a religious tradition. No need for critical thinking here (or listening to a gut instinct that screams “WTF” and “Wrong!”).

  38. Randy says

    “it is not, in fact, advisable to mutilate an infant’s penis and then …”

    It’s disgusting that we still need “and then”.

    People who circumcise boys should be jailed. Period.

  39. says

    @? — 1/3 off means that sex would be 50% more pleasurable for you if you were intact (just think of what you’re missing). And while it might not matter to you so much now, it will when you’re older and have to buy little blue pills to help… do I really need to explain this part?

    And FYI, nerve endings can be seen with a microscope and their density per unit of surface area is easy to determine. And a simple measurement shows how much skin was removed and how much remains. Apply a little math and there’s your 33% discount.

  40. jamal49 says

    Infant circumcision is nothing but a sexual perversion and the unnatural mutilation of a male child’s penis.

    The ritual fellatio that is performed by some Orthodox Jewish rabbis after the circumcision is about as disgusting as it gets when it comes to “religious tradition”.

    To call it a “rite” or a “tradition” is to deny its barbarism.

    Let the Orthodox Jews scream all they want. It should be banned, period.

    Muslims practise circumcision, but at least some Muslim adherents wait until the male child is 13 years of age before doing it.

    But it is so ingrained in Muslim tradition that most 13-year old Muslim males feel obligated to submit to this ritualistic mutilation.

    Unless it is freely chosen by a male of the age of consent, or due to medical necessity, circumcision should be banned outright.

  41. DB says

    I am amazed that some posters here cannot distinguish between sucking the blood off an infant’s penis, which can be dangerous, and circumcision in general, which is extremely beneficial and prevents many diseases, medical complications, and sexual dysfunction. My husband and I had our son circumcised because we realized how critical it is for health. Circumcision campaigns are now being promoted across Africa to eliminate the AIDS pandemic: . If you become or are a parent of a son, please circumcise him during infancy. If you are an uncircumcised man, please get circumcised in order to protect your health and that of your partner or partners.

  42. redball says

    @DB, i’m in public health and besides the relatively small benefits of AIDS prevention which i believe only really matter for HIV-endemic settings, i dispute your claim that circumcision “prevents many diseases, medical complications, and sexual dysfunction.”

  43. redball says

    ah i see TR changed the title of this post; it used to be “to suck on the penises of…”

    was the original title (which was MUCH MORE hilarious) deemed too incendiary?