SAN FRANCISCO – Opponents of a proposition to ban circumcision in San Francisco are suing to have the measure removed from the November ballot, it was announced Wednesday.
A lawsuit was filed Wednesday in California Superior Court by plaintiffs including the Jewish Community Relations Council, the Anti-Defamation League, several physicians, and Jewish and Muslim families.
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Although public opposition to the ballot measure has centered on religious freedom and the health benefits of circumcision, the lawsuit is more narrowly focused on the fact that medical procedures in California are regulated by the state, not by local municipalities.
California Bus & Prof. Code 460(b) denies any California city the
power to restrict a state-licensed healing professional from performing
any procedure that falls within the recognized scope of that profession.
Thus, the lawsuit states, a ban on circumcision, which is a medical
procedure under state protection, cannot legally be enacted by a city.
Placing such a ban on a city ballot is invalid and a waste of money, the
The ballot measure would make it a misdemeanor to circumcise any male
under the age of 18 within city limits. Violators would face a $1,000
fine and a year in jail. It was placed on the November ballot in May by a
coalition of anti-circumcision groups.
A similar ballot proposal in Santa Monica, California, was withdrawn by
its supporters following the outcry generated by the San Francisco
ballot measure, which some opponents claim is motivated by
Both Jews and Muslims circumcise their boys as part of their faith.
Physicians have come out in opposition to the measure, saying it would
prevent them from performing their job in the way they see fit.
“This measure would put me and hundreds of other doctors in jail for
performing a procedure with known health benefit and global health
implications,” said Dr. Brian McBeth, a litigant in the case who works
in the department of emergency medicine at San Francisco General