Legal or Not, Religious freedom or Custom

labrea_gwMarch 7, 2012

A Baby has died it's not the first time but it's rare after

metzitzah b'peh in the past other infants have been infected by herpes in this manner

"Metzitzah b'peh would have been banned almost six years ago, but haredim led by Satmar and Agudath Israel of America lobbied to stop that ban, Satmar going so far as to demonstrate against the mayor while wearing concentration camp uniforms and claiming the mayor himself Jewish was an anti-Semite. It appears the city government tried to hide this new death from the media, leading to the question: how many more babies have been killed by Satmar and Agudath Israel lobbying that we don't know about?" (from Failed Messiah)

Is this a matter of religious freedom, parental abuse or does the health department have the right to ban it.

In some traditions after the circumcision the mohel removes the blood from the wound orally.

From a letter 4 years ago.

âÂÂThe lack of understanding among leaders of this community is truly outrageous,â said Dr. Jonathan Zenilman, chief of infectious diseases at Johns Hopkins Medical Center.

As an example, he cited a suggestion by Agudah in a letter last week to the Department of Health that mohels believed to have transmitted herpes to infants not be banned from doing metzitzah bâÂÂpeh, but instead that the anti-viral drug acyclovir be topically applied to the circumcision wound or that it be taken by the mohel orally.

âÂÂThe AgudahâÂÂs proposals demonstrate that they donâÂÂt understand this disease process,â Zenilman said. âÂÂLocal application of acyclovir doesnâÂÂt work. It is not used by clinical experts for treatment, let alone prevention of transmission.âÂÂ

And, he said, herpes-infected adults taking acyclovir orally is proven to be 90 percent effective in preventing symptomatic transmission among adult partners, but effective only half the time in the actual transmission of the virus.

Furthermore, Zenilman said, these are adult sexual partners with mature immune systems who were studied, not newborns.

âÂÂOne of the things that gets consistently overlooked is that the infant is considered an immuno-suppressed host in terms of susceptibility to infection,â he said. âÂÂThatâÂÂs why in this population this infection is a devastating disease.âÂÂ

Here is a link that might be useful: Mayor vs mohel

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Oh, dear... please insert medical experts and health department personnel immediately! What an insane practice... I'd call that child abuse... I don't care what kind religious ceremonial implications there are. You can't seriously expose infants to this kind of disease through such unsanitary practices and ignorance of disease transmission!

As a footnote... it also seems a little twisted to me... how is, or should, "oral", meaning by mouth, be in any way involved in circumcision? That reads like pedophilia.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2012 at 3:14PM
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No it is a religious practice/custom but as such can it be prevented on medical grounds?

    Bookmark   March 7, 2012 at 3:18PM
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I don't think the religious practice should be banned, but he should be. I think. It's so awful. It makes me raging angry. Anyone doing this should have be tested on an ongoing basis and disallowed if they are infected with anything that can be disseminated via mouth.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2012 at 3:22PM
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hamiltongardener(CAN 6a)

how is, or should, "oral", meaning by mouth, be in any way involved in circumcision? That reads like pedophilia.

In ye olde days, sucking the blood from the wound was believed to help stop bleeding. I think I read that saliva will help clotting, but not so much that it actually matters.

So, it's another outdated religious tradition that could be scrapped in favour of more sanitary practices.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2012 at 3:39PM
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OMG, I have never heard of this.

My son's circumcision was performed by a mohel. I can tell you his mouth did not get anywhere near the area!

"centuries-old, ultra-Orthodox ritual"
Well, that says it all right there. Nobody should be using centuries-old techniques for surgery, which is essentially what this is!

    Bookmark   March 7, 2012 at 5:28PM
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I realize it's an ancient religious tradition... it still makes my stomach turn when I think of the fact that this is the 21st century, and even religious leaders know this. To keep a religious custom alive that can endanger a child is sick. I'm sorry... that's just how I feel.

If I were the parents of that infant, I'd be horrified and angered that my child now had to suffer with the disease, and embarrassment that goes along with it. As far as I am aware, there's as yet no cure for herpes.

And as a church official, I'd be mortified that I was spreading a disease, knowingly OR unknowingly. Not being Jewish, or from a Jewish community, everyone I know was circumcised at the hospital, using the most sanitary, modern practices available.

Ya, I have to agree... surgical procedures have no place in a church/religion.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2012 at 6:24PM
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I realize that the custom or practice may seem unusual to many if not revolting. That should not change the principle behind what is transpiring with this case. The Family of the dead infant have suddenly become uncooperative.

There have been arguments over this before in various segments of the various Orthodox Sects & the hostility has been palpable.
Would the covenant still be as valid today if this practice by some were stopped.

Here is a link that might be useful: family Complicit or persecuted

    Bookmark   March 7, 2012 at 6:49PM
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That is one ancient ritual that simply needs to become extinct.

Not only is it creepily pedophiliac, it is dangerously unhygienic for the infant and blatantly unnecessary.

Many ancient religious practices have been outlawed -- human sacrifice, polygamy, ritual prostitution. Add this one to the list.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2012 at 10:16PM
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The ritual is not a paraphilia (we throw that term around loosely in out culture) but it may be harmful or deadly.
This is important legally where as the eew factor isn't.
The flip side is that statistically it happens infrequently (does that have any bearing at all)

Does the Health Department of a state have legal right to prohibit a religious? cultural practice.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 7:04AM
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Apparently, at least in NY, the health department does not have the right to stop it. But, they strongly recommend against it.

Please do not confuse this ultra orthodox procedure with the circumcision most Jews have done on their sons. It is not the same. At my son's and everyone else's in my family, everything instrument was sterilized and the mohel wore surgical gloves. There are many doctors in my family, including my brother, and everyone has had a mohel perform the circumcision. Both of my ob/gyn (2 docs in practice) are Jewish and a mohel performed their son's as well.

I heard on the news last night that the Rabbi/Mohel that performed this particular procedure is related to the family. So that may explain why the family is not cooperating.

This ancient ritual should be stopped. In the article linked by the OP, it says that Rabbis in other cities have voluntarily stopped the practice. NY should do the same.

But, circumcisions in general should not be stopped.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 8:12AM
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"But, circumcisions in general should not be stopped."

I would agree with that... I think, Jewish or not, it's a decision the parents need to make... not the state.

We've had the standard debate about the practice, not from a religious viewpoint, but from one of just custom and tradition. And it's one of those things that falls into the category of... "but the child doesn't get to make the decision". And I feel that there are some issues, like this one, that are best discussed and decisions made by the parents of the child... it's right up there with some issues we're also talking about now, having to do with reproductive subjects... it's a choice for the parents, not the state, in my opinion.

Some parents feel male infants should be left intact, and others feel circumcision is a good practice, leading to less health issues, overall.

If I recall, there was quite a split on the issue.

But this particular issue goes way deeper and involves actual disease... incurable, I might add. The fact that a death occurred is even more reason to look deeper into some of the more ancient and less than sanitary religious practices.

I'm very glad to know that many have voluntarily stopped.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 12:07PM
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And I am on the other side of this issue. I believe infant circumcision should be stopped. When the child has grown up he can then make the decision to have this procedure done when he is of an age to consent. Lets remember surgical procedures are also carried out on girls but no one seems to think that those should be carried on here-but we have a very short history with that sort of thing.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 12:23PM
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I agree patriciae. My son was circumcised. Many years later, while in law school, I did a research project on male and female "circumcision". What is done to girls is horrendous and is actually mutilation. But, it made me change my mind about male circumcision. I never communicated my thoughts on this to my son but, strangely enough, he and his wife decided to NOT circumsise their son, and DS even gently scolded me, shortly after his son was born, for deciding on the procedure for him.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 2:13PM
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Well, from an American point of view, females are generally left intact, and there's never been a major to-do about it... it's never been an American custom.

That's more of a theocratic patriarchal culture that butchers women in jealousy and fear that they might actually find enjoyment in sex. It's a control mechanism, and it's not done to males for the same reasons.

From a sensitivity point of view, I don't think we can accurately measure a person's pleasure level, and not everyone holds the same level of personal hygiene ... I think, just as all genitalia differ slightly from individual to individual, one can't say with any certainty that circumcising a male removes or changes any sexual pleasure.

I believe my husband would say he's happy to be among those who had the procedure done as an infant, and we're glad our boys were done. Our grandchildren were also done. It has nothing to do with religion, nothing to do with custom or culture, and everything to do with family beliefs and hygiene. So, I'm for it... and I believe it should be left to the parents, not the government.

I recall my brother, adopted from Quebec, was circumcised at age 4, and it was incredibly painful for him. I clearly remember how he cried and cried. At that age, it was a big deal. It's kind of like an adult having their tonsils and adenoids removed... the older you get, the worse it can be.

As an infant, the younger the better, I believe... less developed nerve endings, less pain. You wouldn't geld an adult horse, or crop the tails of adults dogs. Even animals are altered at a younger age, not that I'm comparing people to animals, so let's not go there. I'm only viewing it medically in this capacity.

I'm glad it's still a choice that parents are able to make. This is yet another area where the government doesn't belong. And just as it's no one's business whether a parent allows their teens access to birth control, neither is it anyone's business whether or not parents decide what is in the best interest of their child, in this and other capacities.

But... I don't really want to take away from Joe's thread here... in which the death of an infant was involved, and is the main reason for the focus of the issue.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 2:51PM
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I would say that what is done to boys is mutilation as well although not as severe. We have accepted this as a part of our culture without really questioning it until recently. In the past it was sold as hygienic. What other body parts are we willing to cut off wholesale in the name of hygiene?

    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 2:53PM
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Of course it should not to be confused with a bris.
Doctors, led by biologist Rabbi Dr. Moshe Tendler of Yeshiva University, tried to ban MBP in 2005, but haredim fought back using lies and bloc votes as weapons according to the website Failed Messiah.
In an old article on the same site it was declared that the State had investigated the practice before but that a deal was struck for block votes.

State records show that at her January 18 meeting with Hasidic leaders, Novello proposed a protocol closely mirroring suggestions that had been circulating for months in the Hasidic world. Among other procedures, she proposed placing the anti-viral drug Valacyclovir on the circumcision wound. The drug is used to treat herpes symptoms in those carrying the virus, and experts say it has no impact on the transmission of the virus. The final protocol eventually announced in Albany last spring removed the Valacyclovir suggestion but included several other measures" including an antibiotic ointment " that experts consulted by the Forward insist do not significantly reduce the risk of herpes transmission.

Here is a link that might be useful: Failure

    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 10:30PM
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Count me on the absolutely against circumcision side. It's not cleaner. It's a blood ritual men invented to compete with women's menses.

I have to admit, I prefer the look of a clean cut penis. We are Jewish but I would have gone down fighting if my DD were a boy. No way. A person should have the choice themselves.

The only difference between the pain levels of an infant and a four year old are their verbalization skills. It's adult tolerance to a baby screaming (they all scream anyway right?) and a child in pain.

WRONG. IMO. And this practice should be outlawed too.

but then, I didn't pierce DD's ears either. When she was ready, at 9, she got earrings. I wouldn't tattoo, pierce, cut, or mutilate another person's body. It's not my place.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2012 at 12:07AM
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religous freedom is one thing when you are old enough to make a decision to join that religion , instead of having it foisted on you.and IMO that goes for circumccision for religious purposes too.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2012 at 12:13AM
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It is barbaric...and a nurse assigned to a maternity ward proved it. She knew her nurse's trained ear could differentiate cries of newborns. She taped them and compared them to other cries. The babies were shown to cry in AGONY after being circumcised. Without anesthesia. And I still believe it is a barbaric practice. And even with anesthesia there is considerable pain when it wears off. This bullsh*t about nerve endings and pain in young babies or puppies is just that. There was a time, not in the distant past, that Vets insisted that animals couldn't feel pain in some instances, also. What an arrogant concept!

It is no surprise to me, at all, that someone here would state that tail docking a young puppy is harmless. Compared to what? A bullet to the head, I suppose. Or other such maiming in the name of breed perfecting. Yeah, yeah...I know...

Anyone who has an animal as a pet knows that there are very clear differences in barks and cries. No matter the age.

As to preferring the "look" of a clean cut penis? This has nothing to do with looks, or shouldn't, anyway. That's your hangup.
And hygiene? Really? Ya gotta be kidding me...maybe this was valid when most people still lived in squalor. Lack of reliably running water. Not anymore. If even then. Not sure why folks could clean in between their toes, inside their bellybuttons and under the armpits why giving a wash to an intact penis would miss that little, extra, bit. If it did, I'd venture to say they would have missed all those others parts, as well.


    Bookmark   March 9, 2012 at 1:07AM
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Women can't really argue a man's personal issue with complete accuracy, so without males to add their personal opinions, the argument is really null and void. Just as they would have a hard time arguing female issues without having personal knowledge of how women feel.

There's no comparison between simple circumcision and female mutilation. The reasons and results are completely opposing. So, bringing female mutilation into the argument is a red herring, in my opinion.

Straight from the horses' mouth, so to speak... my husband wouldn't have it any other way. We discussed it yesterday, as a matter of fact, and he said, and I quote, "if my parents hadn't had the procedure done to me as an infant, I'd be begging to have it done from the time I became self aware, so to speak, and as soon as I was able, I'd have it done. I had my sons done, and I'm incredibly glad I did."

Maybe it IS a personal opinion... doesn't matter. What each family decides should be the way it is.

And it's not true that just because YOU have access to running water and soap, and know about hygienic practices that the next person does or will keep up with it. When I lived in PA, I knew several families that still didn't have indoor plumbing, so the argument that everyone has access and knows all about, or even cares about, cleanliness doesn't hold water.

Certainly, the majority of people are aware... but there are a lot of family situations, both urban and rural, that differ from the next person's. This much is fact. We could never say with 100% accuracy that everyone would or could take such wonderful, loving care of their infants, male OR female. Not everyone lives in a spic and span suburban home.

And it shouldn't matter what some people think... the laws should be written so that everyone has a choice to care for their offspring as they see fit, just as women should have certain choices, and it can't really be argued that circumcision is so life altering that the government should get involved and stop the practice.

But once again, we're arguing something that's already BEEN argued to death here, and it's not the focus of the thread. There are surely pros and cons... but as parents, and as individuals, we each do what we feel is best based upon the options in front of us.

You do your thing... and we'll do ours. I have to say, though, that I haven't heard any male within my family, or anywhere else, lament the loss. It might be an outdated practice by some opinions, but in others it remains a viable option.

Back to the OP...

    Bookmark   March 9, 2012 at 12:33PM
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Not every child washes behind his ears-nor do their mothers always do it for them-it makes perfect sense to cut their ears off-right?
Mutilation is mutilation. Most girls do not mind having had their ears pierced when they are babies but for the ones that do it is too late.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2012 at 1:07PM
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Ah well letting it go this topic has taken on a life of it's own!

    Bookmark   March 9, 2012 at 1:32PM
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"When I lived in PA, I knew several families that still didn't have indoor plumbing, so the argument that everyone has access and knows all about, or even cares about, cleanliness doesn't hold water."

Jodi, I grew up without indoor plumbing as did all of my neighbors. Most of the little boys I grew up with were not circumcised. Somehow with our mamas heating up water on the stove and pouring it into our bathtubs, or using the solar heated shower, or taking cold showers or doing whatever that particular family did... worked.

I also went to a very posh private school with two boys, their dad was a doctor, and I swear those kids never bathed, it was sad. So you're right, just because someone has access to running water doesn't necessarily make them cleaner.

But either way, not one penis fell off.

The OP is tragic. But it is as much a custom as cutting off the parts, so who am I to judge? I feel horrible for the parents. What a cross to bear.

If it were me, I would say "law is no one gets to cut parts off of people, or stick their mouth or private body parts on people, without the of-age consent of said people"

So no cutting of penis' or labia, no putting the mouth on a baby's private parts.

Although, if a mother had kissed her baby and the baby had a cut and the herpes got in the cut... would that be manslaughter? Anyone hear about the morphine death from breastmilk?

    Bookmark   March 9, 2012 at 2:01PM
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Sorry Labrea..we took it to the next logical step since to ban one is to ban the other.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2012 at 3:06PM
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Oh I do get that I rally do the ban wasn't on ritual circumcision but on a battle between the mayor of NY with several sects who were wielding political clout & intimidation to maintain that part which was not commanded by their god.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2012 at 3:24PM
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I guess we could argue all day about the necessity for circumcision or whether it being a religious ritual for Jews gives it a pass but this does not address the question of why. Why of the many possibilities for giving a boy a tribal mark does cutting off a major part of the penis seem like a good idea? Or is this not the purpose, there is obviously a sexual connotation but I doubt that aesthetics features. Anyway, my questions have been asked before and the link attempts an answer.

Here is a link that might be useful: Jewish circumcision

    Bookmark   March 9, 2012 at 3:30PM
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metzitzah b'peh is the custom I've been referring to not circumcision

    Bookmark   March 9, 2012 at 4:16PM
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Oh jeez, now I have to google that or is it circumcision with the vampirish sucking bit?

    Bookmark   March 9, 2012 at 4:45PM
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The OP tells you that Ink lol!

    Bookmark   March 9, 2012 at 4:48PM
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Cleaning under a foreskin is what's needed to keep it healthy and, in some cases, for the opening to stretch properly as a child grows. Little children do not automatically do this for themselves, and as the process can be painful it can be asked if it is appropriate for a caretaker to do it on a regular basis.

A child approaching puberty that has a foreskin that has not stretched properly will need a circumcision, no matter what anyone else's theories or feelings on the matter may be. This is probably one reason for circumcision becoming part of the initiation ritual into manhood in some cultures.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2012 at 3:03AM
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