Foreskin fetishists get whacked

As predicted, the San Francisco ballot measure banning male circumcision met a quick demise.

As I wrote several months ago:

Those who devote their lives to the preservation of foreskins are hurriedly gathering signatures to put a circumcision ban on San Francisco’s November ballot. The measure would assess fines as high as $1,000 and provide for up to one year in jail for someone who performs a circumcision.

Lloyd Schofield, a self-described “intactivist,” started the successful signature gathering campaign that put the measure on the November ballot. But Superior Court Judge Loretta Giorgi brought an abrupt end to the effort.

Giorgi agreed with the doctors, community groups and Muslim and Jewish families who sued, arguing that a ban was an unconstitutional interference with the free exercise of religion, as well as a violation of state law on medical practice.

As reported in the LA Times:

Judge Loretta M. Giorgi ordered San Francisco’s director of elections to strike the measure from the city’s ballot because she said that it is “expressly preempted” by the California Business and Professions Code.

Under that statute, only the state is allowed to regulate medical procedures, and “the evidence presented is overwhelmingly persuasive that circumcision is a widely practiced medical procedure,” the ruling said.

After a brief hearing, Giorgi also found that the proposed ban would violate citizens’ right to the free exercise of religion, said Deputy City Atty. Mollie Lee, because it targets Muslims and Jews, whose faiths call for circumcising males.

The American Civil Liberties Union lauded the judge’s ruling:

“It’s unusual for a judge to order an initiative off the ballot, but the proposed circumcision ban presented that rare case where the court should block an election on an initiative,” said ACLU Northern California staff attorney Margaret Crosby in a released statement. “Not only is the ban patently illegal, it also threatened family privacy and religious freedom. The court’s order protects fundamental constitutional values in San Francisco.”

The misguided effort to ban circumcision did have one salutary benefit, a striking degree of cooperation between American Jewish and Muslim leaders:

.. Marc Stern, associate general counsel for legal advocacy at the American Jewish Committee, said the Jewish community was “clearly appalled” by the proposed ban.

“This is the most direct assault on Jewish religious practice in the United States,” said Stern. “It’s unprecedented in American Jewish life.”

“We would agree with the Jewish religious and legal scholars regarding the practice, and … to my knowledge, there is no compelling medical reason to ban it,” said Ibrahim Ramey, the human civil rights program director at the Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation. “There are religious sensitivities that are involved and the decision to circumcise ought best be left to the parents of the child, and not a political referendum.”

All in all, Schofield’s effort to ban circumcision was a total failure. The San Francisco courts have gone on record ruling that, in direct contradiction to the claims of foreskin fetishists, male circumcision IS a medical procedure, with medical benefits, and that it is also a religious procedure protected by the First Amendment.

  • Sara Barnson

    Aren’t there similar medical benefits for female circumcision? I personally fail to see the difference. Either circumcision is OK or it isn’t. Obviously, genital mutilation is not ok. Putting a bar through a boy’s foreskin to keep him from getting an erection is genital mutilation, and was practiced in the US during the same period that circumcision was first widely introduced in the US, both as a way to cause a boy extreme pain and prevent him from masturbating. Searing a girl’s genitals with acid and cutting off her labia minora and clitoris were likewise both meant to cause her pain and prevent masturbation. Medical circumcision decreases infections both for men and women. It also removes a significant piece of sexual organ for both males and females. The only difference is that the rest of the sexual organs are in different places. A man can still be externally stimulated, while a woman’s remaining excitable tissue is internal and hard to reach. If we classify one medical circumcision as genital mutilation, the other must be as well. They are almost exactly the same. Either circumcision is medically necessary in both genders to prevent frequent infections, or it isn’t

    Personally, I feel that between the number needed to treat to prevent people dying of infections in a hygenic society with antibiotics versus the side effects of removing part of a sexual organ is an unacceptable ratio. If my future sons show symptoms of infection, I’ll take them to the doctor and get the infection treated just like I would for my daughters and just like my parents did with me for each UTI I got. The doctor didn’t recommend female circumcision to reduce the number of infections I got. I’m appalled that they do so for boys.

  • Anonymous

    Oh look, the intactivists are attacking an article 3 years after the fact.

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