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Judge Strikes San Francisco Circumcision Ban From the Ballot

Judge Strikes San Francisco Circumcision Ban From the Ballot

 

The debate over whether San Francisco should ban male circumcision was, thankfully, ended by a Superior Court judge, who ruled that medical services are under the purview of the states, not individual cities.  The judge, Loretta Giorgi, ordered that the ban be removed from the November ballot.  If it had passed, the measure would have made circumcision of an underage boy punishable by a $1,000 fine and up to a year in jail.  There would have been no religious exemptions.

The measure was widely criticized by Jewish and Muslim groups, as well as the ACLU and San Francisco’s Medical Society.  For Jews and Muslims, circumcision is an important religious ritual, while medical experts pointed out that male circumcision has been proven to reduce the risk of HIV infection.  Others pointed out that many Christian and secular parents choose to circumcise their children, and that the practice, far from being “male genital mutilation,” is widely culturally accepted.

The controversy over the ban threatened, at times, to turn anti-Semitic.  The “Foreskin Man” comic books created by Matthew Hess, an anti-circumcision activist, drew a great deal of well-deserved flak for casting a mohel, a Jewish official who specializes in ritual circumcision, as a villain.

Lloyd Schofield, who has been active in the Bay Area advocacy group determined to make circumcision illegal, says that the surgery violates human rights.  He claimed that to have the measure struck from the ballot was, at this stage, “undemocratic.”

But the coalition of civil rights groups who opposed the ban were far more persuasive.  At its root, the ban would have violated the choice to participate in a widely practiced cultural tradition, and stigmatized religious groups.  ”Not only is the ban patently illegal, it also threatened family privacy and religious freedom,” explained ACLU Northern California staff attorney Margaret Crosby in a statement. ”The court’s order protects fundamental constitutional values in San Francisco.”

The anti-circumcision advocates say that they are considering an appeal.  But given Judge Giorgi’s decisive order, it seems unlikely that an appeal would succeed.

Related Stories:

Anti-Semitic Comics Used as Propaganda for Circumcision Ban

San Francisco Could Ban Male Circumcision

Will San Francisco Ban Circumcision?

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Photo from aesop via flickr.

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203 comments

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8:10AM PST on Nov 13, 2011

.... to not be cut into as his first experience of a new mother in a new country in a new life. The first responsibility of a mother is to protect her child. That means from EVERYTHING that causes harm and should include outdated religious dogmas just as much as high fructose corn syrup and the child molester in the altar room. That can sometimes feel rebellious, frightening, and leave a mother standing alone against a massive machine pulling in the opposite direction. But that's what a mother does.

8:08AM PST on Nov 13, 2011

I lost a friendship over this issue, and you know what? Good riddance. This woman was in process of adopting a child from South America, requested a "toddler" because she wasn't able to afford the first two-three years of infant care, and "was praying to God" they didn't give her a boy so she wouldn't "have to confront the circumcision issue". Because "there is no way I can have an uncircumcised boy." She knew that any South American child would likely not be a circumcised, it would be her "responsibility" as a Jewish mother to see that that was done, and it would be highly problematic to her conscience to put a child of 2 or 3 years old through that ordeal. But, she said, she would have to do it. I said, "No you don't." Because this is the year 2008. We're past being burned to death for disagreeing with our religious pasts. And whatever that child has come through to get to the point of being adopted by a foreigner was traumatic enough. To heap this physical and psychological trauma on a walking, probably talking, cognizant child as your first act as a mother would be despicable, unconscionable, and out of the question. And if that's the position you take, I can't have anything to do with it. She accused me of "passing judgement" on her, of being "anti-semitic", every ridiculous thing but what it was really about.... the right of that innocent child, who has already been through too much, to not be cut into as his first experience of a new mother in a new countr

8:06AM PST on Nov 13, 2011

I lost a friendship over this issue, and you know what? Good riddance. This woman was in process of adopting a child from South America, requested a "toddler" because she wasn't able to afford the first two-three years of infant care, and "was praying to God" they didn't give her a boy so she wouldn't "have to confront the circumcision issue". Because "there is no way I can have an uncircumcised boy." She knew that any South American child would likely not be a circumcised, it would be her "responsibility" as a Jewish mother to see that that was done, and it would be highly problematic to her conscience to put a child of 2 or 3 years old through that ordeal. But, she said, she would have to do it. I said, "No you don't." Because this is the year 2008. We're past being burned to death for disagreeing with our religious pasts. And whatever that child has come through to get to the point of being adopted by a foreigner was traumatic enough. To heap this physical and psychological trauma on a walking, probably talking, cognizant child as your first act as a mother would be despicable, unconscionable, and out of the question. And if that's the position you take, I can't have anything to do with it. She accused me of "passing judgement" on her, of being "anti-semitic", every ridiculous thing but what it was really about.... the right of that innocent child, who has already been through too much, to not be cut into as his first experience of a new mother in a new countr

12:59PM PDT on Oct 8, 2011

@Glen P: "Thanks mom and dad!"

Gosh, Glen! Just think how easy it'd be to clean your feet, if your parents had only amputated your toes when you were an infant!! Now you MIGHT have to have it done as an adult, when it'll be far more painful! Shame on them!!

12:55PM PDT on Oct 6, 2011

As a circumcised man I would like to say I am HAPPY that it was done when I was a new born infant and that I didn't have to get it done while older. It's far cleaner and more maintenance free than if I weren't circumcised.

Thanks mom and dad!

12:58AM PDT on Oct 5, 2011

Old discussion, Dogly, and don't "peek", but Mt. St. Helens isn't exactly active right now. I'd jump into the crater and have fun doing it........filled with snow. Actually, was there a month ago.

7:03AM PDT on Oct 4, 2011

"far from being “male genital mutilation,” is widely culturally accepted." Being widely culturally accepted, does not mean that it is not genital mutilation. How do the arguments for this barbaric ancient practice differ from those made on behalf of female genital mutilation? The child's interest in not being sliced up should be held paramount over the wishes of parents to take knives and sharpened stones to their little children. I think any man who makes his living cutting body parts off little boys CAN only be called a monster. Would it be OK with this judge if Hawaiians, practicing their tradition, throw the occasional virgin girl child into Mt. St. Helens and other volcanoes? Tradition and religion have always been used to justify the most cruel barbarities. Protect little boys, not bronze age brutality!

5:22AM PDT on Aug 26, 2011

Several here have respectfully posted opinions that differ from my own & then let it go- I respect those people (particularly after having later gotten to know a few of them through other posts & PMs). But those continuing to harp on this issue, so many wks later- I question your motives- you need to find a hobby, or something...

8:11PM PDT on Aug 25, 2011

Diane... This issue is not dead regardless of how much breast beating you do. It is MY BODY. How dare you tell me to suck it up.

It is only your personal decision when it affect only you. Keep your filthy hands off of other individuals' bodies. Go back to the Taliban from which you came.

2:07AM PDT on Aug 25, 2011

Oh, give it up. Mark. I gave up the thread because it serves no purpose to continue arguing about peoples' personal choices and this is an issue which isn't "up for discussion" anymore in the first place. The proposal to "ban" was dropped. Get over it. I did not have any "guilt" when my son was born (over 41 years ago), nor do I now, and yes, I followed my pediatrician's advice, which is what he was paid to provide.

So, unless you are the most bored human being on the face of the earth and have nothing else to do but continue to debate and argue about "dead issues" find something more current and relevant. Please don't refer to me again, as you have nothing credible to say that I would be interested in responding to. If I hadn't noticed your comment in my Care.2's IN BOX starting with my name, I wouldn't have posted in this discussion again in the first place. Have a good day, or try to you aren't too involved with other peoples' medical decisions other than your own.

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Colleen H. Colleen H. is an Online Campaigner with Care2 and a recent transplant to San Francisco from the East... more
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