A Manhattan federal judge refused to block a New York City regulation requiring people who perform bris milah with metzitzah b’peh to first obtain written consent from the parents.
U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald on Thursday refused to issue a preliminary injunction against the change to the city’s health code, which some members of the city’s Orthodox Jewish communities called an unwarranted government intrusion on religious freedom.
In September, the New York City Board of Health voted to require mohelim to obtain advance consent that tells parents about the risk of a potentially fatal herpes infection linked to metzitzah b’peh.
Enforcement of the regulation was put on hold until Buchwald could rule on the request by the Central Rabbinical Congress of the USA and Canada, the International Bris Association and some rabbis for a preliminary injunction.
In court papers filed in October, they said the regulation improperly singled out an exclusively religious ritual, and violated the free speech and free exercise protections within the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
But in a 93-page decision, Buchwald refused to halt enforcement of the regulation, and said the plaintiffs’ claims were likely to be found without merit.
“There is ample medical evidence that direct oral suction places infants at a serious risk of herpes infection, as well as evidence that parents are sometimes unaware in advance of a circumcision that MBP will occur, and the regulation plainly addresses these legitimate societal concerns,” Buchwald wrote.
“As enacted, the regulation does no more than ensure that parents can make an informed decision” whether to consent, she added.
Shay Dvoretzky, a partner at Jones Day representing the plaintiffs, was not immediately available for comment.
The city welcomed the decision. “Informing parents about the grave risks associated with this procedure is critical to safeguarding infants’ health,” Michelle Goldberg-Cahn, a senior lawyer for the city, said in a statement.
New York City said it plans to begin enforcing the consent requirement even if litigation continues.
Source: Jonathan Stempel – YAHOO NEWS