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San Francisco to put circumcision ban on the ballot

May 19, 2011 19:38

Petition passes city council; measure would make circumcision before 18 years of age misdemeanor crime, penalty of year in prison, $1000 fine.

A brit mila in France.

brit mila_521. (photo credit:SERGE ATTAL / FLASH90)

A measure seeking to ban male circumcision will appear on the November ballot in San Francisco.

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More than 7,700 signatures from city residents on a petition in support of the measure were approved as valid by city officials on Wednesday. At least 7,168 signatures were required, and more than 12,000 were submitted.

The measure, which would apply only in the city of San Francisco, would make it a misdemeanor crime to circumcise a boy before he is 18 years old. The maximum penalty would be a year in jail and a $1,000 fine. Circumcisions would be permitted only for medical reasons, with no religious exemptions.

Even if the measure passes in November, it likely would be challenged as a constitutional violation of freedom of religion.

“This is a tradition not only practiced by Jews, but by Muslims and members of secular society,” Rabbi Yosef Langer, director of Chabad-Lubavitch of San Francisco, said. “The Jewish people and spiritually conscious people all over the world will certainly -- and have always -- risen to the occasion so that justice, and the will of the Almighty, will prevail.”

The Anti-Defamation League and the San Francisco Jewish Community Relations Council have come out against the proposal.

Jewish boys traditionally are circumcised at eight days of age and Muslims at some time during boyhood.

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