Oral Suction Leads to Two Infants With Herpes

circumsionIs there any other context, other than religion, that someone could get away with cutting a piece off a baby’s penis, and then using ‘direct oral suction’, without seeming like a sick, twisted, perverted a-hole?

Imagine for a minute, you’ve just brought the newest member of your family home – a baby boy. Someone comes to your door with blade in hand and tells you that they’re required to cut a piece off his penis and then put the newly cut portion of the genitalia in their mouth so they can apply suction.

Would this ever be acceptable, especially since we have medical equipment and surgeons that could do a ‘better’ job of it?

Apparently, if you’re an Orthodox Jew, it’s not only permissible, but some parents feel obligated to put their children under the knife because…well…God.

Two New York City infants were diagnosed with herpes after undergoing a traditional Orthodox Jewish circumcision, NBC4 reports.

According to the Health Department, both babies developed lesions on their genitals shortly after having the metzitzah b’peh, a practice in which the mohel — a person trained to perform the “covenant of circumcision” — uses a direct oral suction technique to swab blood from the infant’s penis, was performed on them.

More than half of all adults carry the herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) , according to Brian F. Leas, a research analyst in the Center for Evidence-based Practice at the University of Pennsylvania Health System. But the symptoms that present in those adults are oral lesions, or cold sores, and not life-threatening. In infants, however, HSV-1 can cause high fever and seizures — and in two cases since 1998, even death.

And like many other out-of-date religious practices, such as faith healing and exorcism, the child often pays for the poor decision making of its parents and clergy; in this case, two children now have herpes.

In my opinion, this practice should be outlawed. It’s dangerous and children need to be protected by law from superstition fueled clergy and parents. If someone wants to be circumcised, they can always have the procedure when they’re old enough to make up their own mind – unless it’s a medical necessity that someone get circumcised, in which case, it should be performed by a physician in a medical environment.

But even if you think circumcision is perfectly acceptable, the idea that clergy are more qualified than medical practitioners is absurd and clearly can have horrendous consequences for the child.

There is no way that priests should be sticking a baby’s genitalia in their mouth under any circumstances.



  1. I heard about this practice a while ago from an atheist Jew, I’m glad it’s getting some attention, because it really needs to be made illegal. So called ‘freedom of religion’ is taken way too far in the states, although Irish aren’t that different, annoyingly.

  2. I’ll be interested to see if there’s a lawsuit in the future on this. There needs to be one on behalf of the children affected so that people will think twice before doing something that could be done in hospital. Those poor kids.

      • Well, the reason why I bring it up is because it looks like a very good negligence case, and imparting liability on the circumcisers would have a chilling effect on this practice. A private lawsuit also gets around First Amendment concerns. While not as desirable as a law prohibiting such practices, it would be something.

        On a side note, the fact that an adult’s mouth touched the genitalia of a minor might satisfy the elements of a statutory rape charge. And that is very illegal.

  3. Pingback: Banning Dangerous Practices | Amusing Nonsense

  4. Genital mutilation is genital mutilation. Plain and simple in my view. If consenting adults want to do that, I guess that is their business, but to impose it on someone else is an act of needless violence.

  5. Well, I feel like being unpopular today — and am an unrepentant, reflexive gadfly, so here goes:
    I had my son circumcised 14 years ago. Indeed, I assisted in the circumcision. Would I do it again? I am not sure. Even back then, I debated with myself back and forth — while for everyone I knew, it was a not brainer — “of course you circumcise the kid.”
    In America in 2012, rural areas reported an incidence of circumcision of 66.9% while urban areas reported an incidence of 41.2%. — wiki. But apparently from about 15 years earlier it has decreased by 15%. So the culture is changing.
    In Europe, which is also largely of Christian influence, the rate is < 20%. So it is curious why the US is so high.
    I worked for 4 years in Urology. Part of that time was in coal mining country where old miners would shyly explain for not being circumcised by explaining that their family was poor, hospital was far away so they were born at home and no circumcision was ever done.
    Why were the apologizing? Well, one of the potential problems with the normal penis is called phimosis (narrowing of the outlet of the forskin which can stop urination eventually and cause other problems). The incidence of phimosis is only 1%, however. (wiki). But another problem is paraphimosis (unable to retract a foreskin and the swelling of the penis) — again, small incidence, but it is seen frequently by us urological surgical types.(wiki). The treatment is circumcision — which is a much bigger deal as an adult.
    Now, the complication rate for circumcision of children is only 0.2% (CDC) and so the benefit of circumcison, outweighs the risks.
    For this reason (and others given here) The American Academy of Pediatrics says: “the health benefits of newborn male circumcision outweigh the risks and that the procedure’s benefits justify access to this procedure for families who choose it. Specific benefits identified included prevention of urinary tract infections, penile cancer, and transmission of some sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has endorsed this statement.” (AAAP)
    One last story. I have a physician friend here who did not have his boys circumcised for all the reasons stated here by everyone. One of those boys is a classmate of my son. His sons later demanded to get circumcised like all their friends and so they were circumcised at 11 and 13 years old.
    Hell, I should do this as a post on my blog, but last time I did one, I got flooded by anti-circ activists. And I figured my post was well balanced.
    Should we make it against the law? I don’t think so. Instead, we should just try to change the culture — I don’t like using the law as a tool. I’d be curious to hear what my son thinks of circumcision should he ever have a son. As for me, I don’t have strong feelings about it — I may lean against doing it nowadays, but I have no problem for people who choose it.
    There, that should stir the bees hive!
    PS — and as always, when I post a comment I follow by email. 🙂

  6. Does the Torah actually say they have to suck? And do they swallow?

    Oh, so many jokes … mean, horrible jokes, but hey, jokes nonetheless.

    How many mohels does it take to screw in a light bulb? Two. One to screw and one to suck out the electricity.

    I saw an out of work mohel on the side of the road the other day. He was holding a sign that said “Will work foreskin.”

    And by the way, a guy can suck the dick of an infant in a godly ceremony, but a woman can’t breastfeed in public without being wrapped up like a mummy.

  7. I view any pro – circumcision ( other than for medical reasons) with a jaundiced eye.
    We have the foreskin for a reason.It is not a redundant organ.
    My son suffered for a short period with the foreskin not being fully retractable as a baby but the pediatrician was very reluctant to circumcise and suggested physical manipulation to encourage normal retraction. It worked , and I am immensely glad we were not forced to resort to circumcision.
    As for the health issues, they are minuscule and almost inconsequential if proper hygiene is maintained.
    Physical mutilation of the body for cultural or religious reasons is a personal choice, of course, but to enforce this on babies is morally wrong and should be outlawed.
    As for the gross practice in the post…..
    Turns my stomach.

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