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Opponents of proposed circumcision ban file lawsuit to block November initiative

June 22, 2011 |  1:44 pm

Circum Opponents of a measure that would make it a misdemeanor to circumcise male children in San Francisco filed a lawsuit Wednesday morning to get the initiative stricken from the November ballot.

The plaintiffs called the measure anti-Semitic, a threat to the religious freedom of Jews and Muslims and an infringement on parental and medical rights. But during a news conference on the steps of San Francisco City Hall, attorney Michael Jacobs said that the group is suing on the grounds that state law prohibits local governments from restricting medical procedures.

That's the job of the Legislature, said Jacobs, flanked by two Muslim women in head scarves and a doctor in a white coat. He said the California Business and Professions Code contains a "clear" prohibition on "exactly these kinds of ballot measures. ... This is not about local control."

Male circumcision, Jacobs said, is safe, sanctioned and the most widely done medical procedure in the country. The ballot measure is a "distraction" to San Franciscans, parents, Jews, Muslims and doctors, he said.

"To parents and physicians, the law protects you against this proposed initiative, which we feel is so misguided," Jacobs said.

The measure, which is slated to be on the November ballot here, would prohibit what it calls the "genital cutting of male minors." Anyone who performed a circumcision would face a fine of up to $1,000 and up to a year in jail.

The SF MGM Bill website says that the measure is necessary to "protect ALL infants and children in San Francisco from the pain and harm caused by forced genital cutting. Damage ranges from excruciating pain, nerve destruction, loss of normal, natural and functional tissue, infection, disfigurement and sometimes death."

Lloyd Schofield, a spokesman for the proponents of the measure, did not respond to requests for comment. But in an interview earlier this month, he said that the group had gathered 7,743 valid signatures to get the measure on the Nov. 8 ballot.


Proposed Santa Monica circumcision ban dropped

Opinion: Circumcision and the ballot measure we'll never miss

-- Maria L. La Ganga in San Francisco

Photo: Carlos Chavez