The New York City Board of Health has relaxed its rules surrounding a controversial practice used by ultra-Orthodox Jews during circumcision.
The ritual, called metzitzah b'peh in Hebrew, involves the oral suctioning of blood from a wound following circumcision, which is traditionally done on the eighth day of a Jewish boy's life. Though most ritual practitioners use a sterile glass tube, a sponge or sterile gauze, the ultra-Orthodox practice of oral blood suction has been a highly political issue in New York, which is home to America's largest ultra-Orthodox Jewish population.
The city in 2012 enacted an ordinance that required parents to sign a consent form for the practice, responding to the cases of 17 infants who contracted the herpes simplex virus following circumcisions that likely included the ritual. Two of those infants died. But last week, New York's board repealed the consent form ordinance, instead opting to educate ultra-religious Jews about the risks involved. —Adam Rubenfire