After a few years of toothless bureaucracy and a minimal amount of government involvement, New York City is a safer place today for herpes-ridden mohels to put their mouths on young boy's freshly-circumcised penises, thanks to the Board of Health and Mayor de Blasio. The BOH voted this morning to nix the city's circumcision consent forms that required Orthodox Jewish parents to sign a waiver before their infant could undergo the "metzitzah b’peh" ritual. This marks a victory for mohels with herpes and the people who enable them.

The "metzitzah b’peh" ritual is the circumcision practice in which a mohel sucks the blood from a freshly snipped foreskin of a baby boy. Outside of the ultra-Orthodox community, the ritual is shunned by Jews, and is considered to be an ancient tradition based on "a long-discredited medical theory from the Iron Age before the dawn of the Common Era."

Under the Bloomberg administration, the Board of Health ruled that "parents need to be aware of the opinion of experts," and unanimously passed the consent forms. The City was immediately sued by ultra-Orthodox Jewish groups who claimed their First Amendment rights were violated.

When he was first running for office, de Blasio initially criticized the Bloomberg administration for not reaching out to the community, but stopped short of promising to dispose of the consent forms. He later used the consent forms as a way to pander to ultra-Orthodox Jewish voters and further separate himself from Bloomberg, saying, "I would start over and change the policy to find a way to protect all of our children but also respect religious tradition."

As Failed Messiah bluntly put it at the time, "Bill De Blasio Promises Satmar That In Exchange For Votes, He Will Repeal Informed Consent For Dangerous Haredi Circumcision Practice." The ultra-Orthodox Jewish factions generally vote in blocs—Failed Messiah notes that this Aharonite Satmar faction alone is worth 10,000+ votes.

On election night in 2013, one ultra-Orthodox Jewish voter in South Williamsburg bluntly told us, "I don't know the meaning of democracy, I just vote what they tell me to do, because maybe they've made deals with the politicians."

De Blasio has now made good on that promise. In lieu of the consent forms, the city is directing health officials to distribute a brochure to ultra-Orthodox Jewish parents titled "Make a safe bris for your baby." You can peruse that brochure here.

A city spokesperson said in a statement: "Protecting infant health is our main goal. We’re confident that the right place to deliver sensitive educational information about medical risk is in a secular health care setting, either before or at the time of birth, where a health worker can deliver information to the mother and father." The city argues that the new forms are a "user friendly, digestible brochure with pictures to inform parents—a true educational campaign."

Health officials say that at least 17 babies in NYC have been infected with herpes since 2000 because of the ritual, and at least two have died because of it. Israeli doctors studying the herpes infection also believe it may be the cause of the noticeably higher number of learning disabled children in Hasidic communities.

"It is our core responsibility to protect the health of New Yorkers," board member Dr. Deepthiman K. Gowda said at the meeting. "At the same time, we have to institute educational policy that actually works...It was deemed that the rollout of our previous policy actually eroded the relationship we wanted."

It is once again up to the Orthodox community to police their own mohels, something which has worked out just dandy

in the past.

It was previously reported that ultra-Orthodox rabbis have "vociferously opposed" informed consent: "It wants no restrictions on circumcision at all - not even a simple verbal warning pointing out the danger of transmitting herpes and other communicable diseases to babies whose immune systems are so new and undeveloped, a herpes infection can kill them or maim them for life."