San Francisco Superior Court Judge Loretta Giorgi on Thursday ruled against a ballot proposal that would have banned infant male circumcision in the city, citing a state law that prevents local governments from regulating medical professionals.
Despite last week's University of Versailles announcement that circumcision cut the rate of HIV among men by 76 percent in one South African township, ban supporters insist the operation has no health benefits and therefore is not legally a medical procedure. However, Giorgi found the presented evidence "overwhelmingly persuasive that circumcision is a widely practiced medical procedure," and that California law "leaves no room for localities to regulate in this area."
Lead anti-circumcision activist Lloyd Schofield, who maintains the practice is cruel and should be outlawed like female genital mutilation, is considering an appeal. "We will not stop until all men are protected from this damaging and harmful surgery," he said.
The measure was widely opposed by Jewish and Muslim groups that considered it an affront to their religious freedoms. City officials and medical associations also opposed the ban, with the American Civil Liberties Union and the San Francisco Medical Society backing the lawsuit. The San Francisco City Attorney's Office even filed a brief contesting the proposal's constitutionality.
Had it been ratified by voters, the ban would have made circumcising any male under age 18 in San Francisco a crime punishable by a $1,000 fine or up to one year in jail.
"San Francisco is a city that doesn't stand for extremism," said Jewish Community Relations Council Associate Director Abby Porth-Michelson. "The idea that they would put doctors in jail for performing a procedure with proven medical benefits is outrageous."
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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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