Jews and Muslims Work Together to Block San Francisco Circumcision Ban

ADL joins community organizations, doctors and Jewish and Muslim families in lawsuit seeking to remove initiative from the November ballot.

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Jewish and Muslim organizations are joining in an effort to block a San Francisco ballot measure that would ban the circumcision of male children.

The groups filed a lawsuit Wednesday on behalf of community organizations, doctors and Jewish and Muslim families asking a San Francisco judge to remove the initiative from the November ballot. The plaintiffs argue that California law bars local governments from restricting medical procedures.

A newborn baby following his Bris, a Jewish circumcision ceremony in San Francisco, May 15, 2011. Credit: AP

San Francisco is set to be the first city to hold a public vote on banning circumcision.

The supporters say male circumcision is a form of genital mutilation that parents should not be able to force on their young child. Opponents say a ban on a religious rite considered sacred by Jews and Muslims is a violation of constitutional rights.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) also joined the group calling on the state Department of Elections to remove the anti-circumcision proposition from the ballot on the grounds that the City of San Francisco would have no power to enact the ordinance if approved by voters.

Existing California law is clear, said Nancy Appel, ADL Associate Director in San Francisco. Only the state can make rules about medical procedures and this initiative violates that law. Not only does this initiative waste time, energy and expense, but it also offends the notions of parental rights and freedom of religion. It is unconstitutional and, as we allege in this lawsuit, contrary to California law.

If enacted, male circumcision could be punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and up to a year in prison.