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In 2012, the New York City Department of Health & Mental Hygiene released an “alert” to numerous healthcare providers and laboratories, that over a 13-year period, there had been 12 confirmed cases of newborn males infected with herpes after undergoing a Jewish circumcision ritual known as “metzitzah b’peh.” [During that ritual, the “mohel” (or person performing the circumcision) would make direct oral contact with the newborns’ circumcision wound.]

After the alert was released, a reporter at the Jewish Daily Forward submitted a request to the DOH, pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act, seeking the mohel’s name.

Both the Second Department and the Queens County Supreme Court denied the reporters’ request--because it would disclose an individual’s medical condition.

While the reporter argued only the mohel’s name, rather than medical history, was requested, the Appellate Division, Second Department, agreed that the request couldn’t be granted. Since releasing the mohel’s name, would disclose relevant and material information about his medical history, the AD2 found the information request to be exempt from disclosure laws, like the Freedom of Information Act--because releasing an individual’s medical history would trigger an “unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.”

Kiss that one goodbye.

To view a copy of the Appellate Division’s decision, please use this link: Matter of B. v. New York City Dept. of Health & Mental Hygiene