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San Francisco’s attorney questions proposed circumcision ban

By LAUREN MARKOE ~ c. 2011 Religion News Service

In a potential blow to the proposed San Francisco circumcision ban, the city’s top lawyer has concluded it is unconstitutional to ban the practice as a religious ritual, but allow it as a medical procedure.

The measure, now headed toward the Nov. 8 ballot, would ban nearly all infant circumcisions.

A lawsuit arguing that no California city can regulate a medical procedure that is allowed by the state will be heard on July 15. The plaintiffs are a group of Jews and Muslims, groups that practice ritual circumcision.

Should they win, a narrower ban exempting medical circumcision could apply only to circumcision as a religious practice. And that would defy the First Amendment, according to a brief recently filed by the city attorney.


“San Franciscans cannot be asked to vote on whether to prohibit religious minorities from engaging in a particular religious practice, when the same practice may be performed under nonreligious auspices,” wrote Chief Deputy City Attorney Therese Stewart.

The proposed ban, sponsored by groups who are opposed to what they consider the genital mutilation of boys, has angered Jews, Muslims and others who consider circumcision to be a parent’s choice.

“The city’s response was completely political,” said Georganne Chapin, executive director of Intact America, an anti-circumcision group that did not sponsor the proposed ban, but supports its intent.

“It is not aimed at Jewish circumcision,” Chapin said. “It’s aimed at the involuntary circumcision of all minors, irrespective of religion.”

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment lee weinstein

    The federal government has made it illegal to perform any medically unnecessary surgery to the genitals of female minors. If that is constitutional, how is this proposed law to give equal protection to male minors, unconstitutional?

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Bill

    Precisely, if females are protected, protection must be extended to males, too. Human arrogance does not cease to insist that Nature [or God] did not do certain things right. It is only a matter of time when Nature will strike back decisively.

  • Hugh7

    This is just another example of the hydra-headed nature of circumcision enabling it to fight its way out of any net. What other religious rite is a medical procedure? What other religious rite OR medical procedure involves cutting normal, healthy, non-regrowing, functional tissue from a non-consenting person? (And before anyone says “abortion”, “person” is the whole point at issue in that debate – there is no dispute that a newborn baby is a person.)

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment cknuck

    speaking as a person who celebrates having a perfect penis I’m sure glad these idiots weren’t around to prevent doctors from circumcising me as a baby, it,s cleaner, safer and of course there is that look of perfection I’d hate to have to have it done as an adult.

  • Hugh7

    @cknuck: Do you imagine for a moment that you’d think your penis wasn’t “perfect” if you’d grown up with all of it? Most men like what they’ve got. The difference is that those who don’t like having had part removed have a legitimate grievance, while those who think they’ve got too much (a very small proportion) have the answer in their hands – well, in their wallets.

    Cleaner? – cleaning it is easy and (don’t tell anyone!) fun. Safer? – not enough to rely on, if at all. But in any cases those are issues for him to decide, nobody else.

  • Pingback: Maybe San Francisco will wake jews up – The Jewish Journal of Greater L.A. » The Legends of the Jews

  • Rob Kerby, Senior Editor

    Uh, guys, I hate to interupt the locker room talk, but let’s remember this is a family-friendly, inspirational website. I’m not sure discussing one’s genitalia is, ummmmm, well, you know …

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment cknuck

    😀 sorry

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