Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
J Med Ethics. 2013 Jul;39(7):456-8. doi: 10.1136/medethics-2013-101469. Epub 2013 May 22.

Ancient rites and new laws: how should we regulate religious circumcision of minors?

Author information

Department of Religion Studies, Lehigh University, 9 W. Packer Avenue, 240 Maginnes Hall, Bethlehem, PA 18015-3075, USA.


The ancient practice of metzitzah b'peh, direct oral suction, is still practiced by ultra-Orthodox Jews as part of the religious rite of male newborn circumcision. Between 2000 and 2011, 11 children have died in New York and New Jersey, following infection by herpes simplex virus, presumably from infected practitioners. The City responded by requiring signed parental consent before oral suction, with parents being warned of the dangers of the practice. This essay argues that informed consent is not an appropriate response to this problem. An outright ban would a better response to a practice that is dangerous to children, but might prove unconstitutional under New York State law.


Circumcision; Newborns and Minors; Paediatrics; Public Health Ethics; Religious Ethics

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for HighWire
    Loading ...
    Support Center