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Religious Circumcision Gone Wrong Leads to Serious Infant Injury

Dec 31, 2013

A baby boy seriously injured during a religious circumcision is drawing attention over the routine practice of religious circumcision.

The baby boy’s penis was severed during a bris performed by Pittsburgh rabbi and mohel, Rabbi Mordechai Rosenberg, according to CBS Local KDKA. The bris ceremony took place at the Tree of Life Synagogue.

The injury to the eight-day-old boy has raised concerns about the traditional ceremony and if such procedures are necessary, CBS Local KDKA reported.

The baby was rushed to Children’s Hospital and underwent eight hours of microsurgery, which has been described as successful. Regarding the issue of religious circumcision, Dr. Mark Weiss told CBS that, “So, yes … one-hundred percent complication rate.” Dr. Weiss is one of a growing group of leaders in the Jewish community who do not believe in the need for religious circumcision and who feel the practice is dangerous.

“There’s no question,” he said. “There is death from circumcision every year. And in the African countries, where medicine is much more primitive, the death rate is much higher,” Dr. Weiss added, according to CBS Local.

“It’s the fundamental right of a child to keep his healthy body parts,” said Greg Hartley who is with the group Intact America, which is calling for a ban on the practice. “We live in a circumcision culture,” Hartley said. “It’s assumed to be an automatic part of birth. But it’s not. Most of the world doesn’t do this,” reported CBS Local.

Rabbi Rosenberg who would not speak on camera, told KDKA’s Marty Griffin that the injury was a “tragic incident” and a “horrible situation,” and did note that he is trained to perform religious circumcision and continues to perform bris ceremonies.

According to RawStory, Rabbi Rosenberg does not have any formal medical training and is now at the center of a lawsuit. An attorney involved in the case said that, on average, a pediatric urologist spends about 20 percent of his or her time repairing unsuccessful circumcisions, pointing out that there do not appear to be any United States laws regulating the practice of religious circumcision.

Meanwhile, in addition to undergoing eight hours of surgery, the baby received six blood transfusions and required nearly two months of hospitalization, RawStory reported.

According to the rabbi’s website, a “medical circumcision, usually performed in the hospital on the second or third day after birth, does not fulfill the requirements of a Bris Milah and is not considered valid according to Jewish law.” The rabbi claims that he is recognized as a Certified Mohel by the American Board of Ritual Circumcision, according to HealthNewsLine.

Medically, a circumcision procedure involves removal of the foreskin from the penis. Some believe that circumcised males are not as likely to suffer from urinary tract infection (UTI), HIV, herpes, and Human Papilloma Virus (HPV); however, experts believe any circumcision benefits are not sufficient to routinely recommend the procedure, HealthNewsLine wrote.

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