Last week, as the New York Times reported, a fight over documenting informed consent to a particular Jewish circumcision ritual is brewing. To quote from the article:
The city Board of Health passed a regulation in September that required written parental consent before a ritual circumcision could be done. In the procedure, common among ultra-Orthodox Jews, the person performing the circumcision uses his mouth to remove blood from the incision. The oral contact, known in Hebrew as metzitzah b’peh, is considered dangerous by public health officials, because of the possibility of spreading diseases, specifically herpes. Failure to comply with the regulation could result in warnings and fines.
To be clear the New York City Board of Health has NOT outlawed the procedure, despite its herpes risk. Instead it only requires that written parental consent be given. My first reaction, and I suppose the reaction of many, is “what could possibly be wrong with that?” On reflection, though, I began wondering what might be learned by juxtaposing this requirement against another one that is trying to influence parental choice…laws on informing women about the risks of abortion and requiring the offering or viewing of an sonogram.