Should circumcision be illegal? That’s up to residents of San Francisco to decide in November when the question will appear on the ballot.
Opponents of the measure say it would be an outrage and a violation of their constitutional rights, particularly to Jews and Muslims who consider circumcision to be a sacred religious rite.
But the measure will still go before voters after a petition was returned to election officials with more than enough signatures to make it on the ballot.
If passed, circumcision would be illegal among males under the age of 18. Offenders would be charged with a misdemeanor, with a fine of up to $1,000 or up to one year in jail. No one of any religion would be exempt from the law. San Francisco would be the first state in the country to have such a ban.
The debate over circumcision has heated up over the past several years. One argument suggests it’s a form of genital mutilation that’s unnecessary, painful and dangerous, and parents should be able to force it on children too young to decide for themselves. Female genital mutilation, which involves removing the clitoris, is illegal in the United States.
However, another argument is that it’s a clear violation of constitutionally protected religious freedoms. People of the Jewish faith, for example, consider ritual male circumcision — called a bris — to be a commandment from God. Others also point out that circumcision is promoted as an important strategy in reducing the spread of the AIDS virus. It’s also believed to reduce the risk of other sexually transmitted diseases as well as penile cancer and urinary tract infections.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not have a position on the proposed San Francisco ban.
Do you think there should be a ban on circumcisions, or is this a matter that should be left alone and private?
Babble’s Newborn Care Guide, Week 2: Circumcism and Umbilical Cord