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Pa. Rabbi facing lawsuit for botched circumcision

A couple filed a lawsuit against Pittsburgh rabbi Mordechai Rosenberg, alleging that he caused a “catastrophic and life-changing injury” to an 8-day-old infant during a circumcision ceremony on April 28 of this year (2013).

Mordechai Rosenberg

The baby had to be taken to a nearby hospital for emergency reconstructive surgery and leech therapy.

Leeches help a body accept reattached parts by promoting blood flow and tissue regeneration, so it is somewhat fair to assume that there was a partial or total amputation of the glans, an injury common to the Mogen clamp, the one commonly used by religious practitioners.

In 2000, the FDA warned about the potential for injuries from Mogen clamps. In 2010 the manufacturer went out of business due to millionaire lawsuits based on catastrophic injuries caused by the clamp. Yet the clamp is still commonly used (currently being part of a trial at the Good Samaritan Hospital in Ohio!).

Glans amputation with a mogen clamp

Rosenberg’s webpage says he’s a certified mohel, or ritual circumciser, who’s done the operations since 1990.

Mohels are not certified by a government agency because circumcision is considered a religious ceremony and not a medical procedure.

If circumcision is a medical procedure, then religious practitioners are performing unlicensed medicine and should be charged with a crime. If this is not a medical procedure, then how can we explain the use of scalpels on the body of a baby and the loss of tissue. And if this is not a medical procedure but just a religious ritual, then we need to consider this ritual abuse of a minor.

Laws against ritual abuse of minors often leave provisions for “activities, practices, and procedures otherwise allowed by law” (http://leg.mt.gov/bills/mca/45/5/45-5-627.htm) – a loophole no doubt enacted to allow cutting male babies’ genitals, while cutting female babies’ genitals is specifically prohibited and “In applying subsection (b)(1), no account shall be taken of the effect on the person on whom the operation is to be performed of any belief on the part of that person, or any other person, that the operation is required as a matter of custom or ritual.” (http://mgmbill.org/usfgmlaw.htm)

Read more: http://triblive.com/news/adminpage/5277845-74/child-mohel-circumcision#axzz2neRB9Skf

And  http://www.kansascity.com/2013/12/18/4700791/pa-rabbi-facing-circumcision-lawsuit.html

In November we found out about a similar injury suffered by a Memphis baby in the context of a medical circumcision, and days later we heard about an 18 day old baby in UAE who had his penis partially severed.

Memphis baby who suffered amputation of his penis during a circumcision in August, reported in November 2013
Saudi baby who had his penis partially cut off during circumcision, November 2013

Circumcision promoters such as Brian Morris boast how safe the procedure is. Yet here, in a matter of 2 months we learn of 3 babies who suffered this life changing injury – and all without medical necessity.

Regarding this risk, the AAP says in the technical report on circumcision:

The majority of severe or even catastrophic
injuries are so infrequent as
to be reported as case reports (and
were therefore excluded from this
literature review). These rare complications
include glans or penile amputation
[...]

Isn’t it time somebody started collecting these case reports? Or do we not care about these babies, Dr. Diekema?

5 thoughts on “Pa. Rabbi facing lawsuit for botched circumcision

  1. Thank you for exposing this awful news of another botched circumcision on a baby. The names and faces of circumcisers who violate, mutilate and severely damage children need to be widely repotted.

    If the AAP and circumcision promoters like Douglas Diekema willfully ignore the severe damage done to children while publicly claiming that the risks of circumcision are minimal or almost non-existent they will continuer to erode their own credibility.

    1. I used to live in Pittsburgh. In Pennsylvania, it is illegal to operate on a pet unless you are a trained, accredited, and licenced veterinary surgeon.

      I know that in the US it is unreasonable to expect baby boys to be accorded the same protection against gential mutilation as baby girls – it is understood that the Fourteenth Amendment does not cover the disposable sex. But can’t we at least give them the same protection as is enjoyed by cats and dogs?

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