U.S. Judge Strikes Circumcision Ban From San Francisco Ballot

Court orders measure criminalizing circumcision dropped from municipal ballot, citing state jurisdiction over medical issues.

A California judge on Thursday ordered a proposed ban on circumcision removed from a San Francisco ballot, saying that the attempted regulation is "expressly preempted" by laws giving the state the exclusive right to regulate medical procedures.

Judge Loretta Giorgi was reacting to a court appeal against the measure presented by several Jewish organizations and the city attorney. Jewish and Muslim groups had objected to the proposal because it clashes with ancient religious practices to circumcise male infants.

A circumcision ceremony, held at the modern-orthodox school of Mercaz HaRav in Jerusalem, 2009. Credit: Daniel Bar-On

Anti-circumcision activists - calling themselves "intact-ivists" - had placed the proposal on the citywide ballot in May for an election scheduled to take place in November.

The ban would have made it illegal to "circumcise, excise, cut or mutilate the whole or any part of the foreskin, testicles or penis of another person who has not attained the age of 18 years."

The ban would have made exceptions for medical reasons but not for religious practises. Violations would have been punishable by a maximum of a 1,000-dollar fine and one year in jail.

The Anti-Defamation League, who had joined a lawsuit challenging the November ballot initiative, hailed the decision by the judge to reject it.

"This is a critical affirmation of religious freedom and parental rights," said Nancy Appel, ADL Associate Regional Director. " We were shocked and outraged that some advocates on the other side choose to use anti-Semitic comic books to drive home their arguments."



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