Calif. Court Throws Out Circumcision Ban

A California judge ruled in favor of Jewish and Muslim plaintiffs Thursday and ordered that a proposed circumcision ban be removed from the San Francisco ballot.

Judge Loretta Giorgi said the attempted regulation is "expressly preempted" by laws giving the state the exclusive right to regulate medical procedures.

The ruling is a victory for the Anti-Defamation League and Jewish Community Relations Council of San Francisco. The groups filed the lawsuit on behalf of doctors and Jewish and Muslim individuals who said the proposal criminalizing the circumcision of males under the age of 18 would interfere with their practices.

"The court has rightly upheld the freedom for Jews and Muslims in San Francisco to choose to circumcise their children in accordance with long-standing religious tradition," said ADL Associate Regional Director Nancy Appel in a statement.

"This is a critical affirmation of religious freedom and parental rights," she summed.

The group collected more than 7,700 signatures to put the Male Genital Mutilation referendum onto the November 11 ballot. San Francisco Director Lloyd Schofield justified the proposed ban, saying, "The base of our argument is you're spending incredible amounts of money [and] doing painful and damaging surgery to an unwilling patient."

In court, the ADL asserted that defended their position with anti-Semitic comic books and comparisons to female genital mutilation. President Matthew Hess told The Christian Post via email that issue three of its comic book series Foreskin Man does make direct comparisons between male and female circumcision. However, Hess stated, "We don't feel that any of the books are anti-Semitic. Foreskin Man fights to protect all boys from genital cutting, including Jewish boys."

Issue two, entitled "Monster Mohel," portrays the Jewish circumcision practitioner as a villainous figure who forcefully performs circumcisions with the help of machine gun-toting Hasidic Jews.

In issue three, "Vulva Girl," husband and wife villains kidnap male and female children for the purpose of circumcising them both.

"We were heartened by the fact the court ignored the offensive argument that traditional ritual circumcision is somehow akin to the ghastly practice of female genital mutilation," said Appel.

During a circumcision, the excess foreskin surrounding the male genitalia is clipped off. On infants, circumcision is usually performed between the first and eighth day after birth.

Contributors to WebMD affirm the procedure is often painful for both newborns and adults, but says the procedure is low-risk and offers benefits such as reduced risk of urinary tract infections and sexually transmitted disease in men.

The World Health Organization says FGM is the partial or total removal of the external female genitalia. The procedure often causes severe bleeding and urinating problems as well as potential childbirth complications. FGM is internationally recognized as a violation of the human rights of girls and women.

Appel said the comparison of the practices is "completely inappropriate and offensive."

The National Association of Evangelicals, which represents more than 45,000 churches, stood in league with Muslims and Jews and condemned the circumcision ban in a June statement.

While the Christian faith does not require circumcision, the NAE noted that Christians, Jews and Muslims all trace their spiritual heritage back to Abraham.

The NAE stated that the circumcision ban would also hinder religious freedom.

If passed, the's bill will take the circumcision choice away from parents despite their religious convictions. Violators of the law would be punished with fines of up to $1,000 and possibly one year in jail.

Hess said is making arrangement for an appeal.