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San Francisco judge rules circumcision ban cannot appear on ballot

A judge for the Superior Court of San Francisco [official website] ruled in Jewish Community Relations Council of San Francisco v. Arntz [materials] on Thursday that a San Francisco public referendum to ban circumcision cannot appear on the ballot in November. The Male Genital Mutilitation bill [text] would have made male circumcision illegal in San Francisco if the recipient is under the age of 18, with perpetrators penalized by a fine of $1,000 or imprisonment. Male circumcision is a religious practice in both Judaism and Islam, so there was an immediate protest to the initiative. Judge Loretta Giorgi ruled [Bloomberg report] against the referendum, stating that it served no legitimate purpose since it is pre-empted and thus prohibited by California's Business and Professions Code [text], which prohibits regulation of medical services. Giorgi also stated that a ban would violate the constitutional right to free exercise of religion. A spokesperson for the Jewish Community Relations Council [advocacy website] told the San Francisco Chronicle [report] that the group is delighted the measure will not appear on the ballot.

Supporters of outlawing male circumcision have pressed forward elsewhere in the US. MGMBill.org [advocacy website] is devoted to submitting legislation to ban the practice, and currently has bills pending in the Federal government as well as 46 states. Advocates for ending male circumcision believe it is a painful and archaic procedure that nets no benefits to the circumcised male. They frequently compare the practice to female genital mutilation, which is illegal under Title 18 [text] of the US Code.

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