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NY health board to consider oral suction circumcision rule

June 10, 2015

NEW YORK (AP) — New York City’s Board of Health has voted to consider the mayor’s plan to resolve a dispute with the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community over a tradition known as oral suction circumcision.

Health officials have linked 17 cases of infant herpes since 2000 to the ancient ritual of sucking blood from the wounds on infants’ penises. Herpes can lead to brain damage or death.

Mayor Bill de Blasio (dih BLAH’-zee-oh) has said circumcisers should no longer be required to obtain signed consent forms. His administration will ask hospitals, obstetricians and pediatricians to distribute information about health risks.

Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration instituted the consent rule. Rabbis opposed it.

Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Travis Bassett says the “well-meaning rule” has had a polarizing effect and is difficult to implement.

The health board will hold a public comment period.

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