California: Lawsuit Seeks to Block San Francisco Vote on Circumcision Ban
June 23, 2011
A lawsuit filed Wednesday in San Francisco Superior Court seeks to block a local ballot measure that would ban the circumcision of male children. The action's plaintiffs comprise five Jews, three Muslims, the Anti-Defamation League, the local chapter of the Jewish Community Relations Council, and two physicians who regularly perform the procedure. Jews and Muslims alike practice circumcision as a religious rite.
If approved, the ordinance would prohibit the circumcision of any male under age 18; violators would be subject to a fine of up to $1,000 or up to one year in jail. There would be no exemption for religious circumcision. Backers of the ban say the procedure is dangerous and painful, and parents should not be able to force it upon infant boys. City officials last month confirmed that organizers had gathered enough signatures for the measure to be decided by voters in the Nov. 8 election.
The plaintiffs contend the measure contravenes a state law that prohibits local governments from restricting medical procedures. They also say it violates their constitutional rights and is out of step with the city's tradition of cultural and religious tolerance.
Studies in Africa have shown that male circumcision reduces the risk of female-to-male HIV transmission by up to 60 percent, and international health organizations have launched campaigns to promote the procedure. The U.S. rate of circumcision is nearly 80 percent, compared to the global average of 30 percent.
06.22.11; Terence Chea
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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