WASHINGTON (JTA) -- US Rep. Brad Sherman will introduce a bill to prevent cities from banning male circumcision, the California lawmaker's office said.

Sherman's bill, which his office announced Tuesday, comes in response to a measure that qualified recently for the November ballot in San Francisco that would outlaw the circumcision of males under the age of 18, making it punishable by a $1,000 fine and a one-year prison term.

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“Male circumcision has been practiced for thousands of years and is a deeply important ceremony for two major religions,” Sherman, a Jewish Democrat, said in a statement. “The Religious and Parental Rights Defense Act of 2011 ensures that Jewish and Muslim families will continue to be able to enjoy the free exercise of their religious beliefs."

Sherman, whose congressional district is in the Los Angeles area, pointed to studies in the medical community that show the health benefits of circumcision.

"To infringe the religious rights of so many Americans, San Francisco should have some compelling medical reason," he said. "However, the medical literature actually shows clear benefits of male circumcision. Congress has a legitimate interest in making sure that a practice that appears to reduce disease and health care costs remains available to parents.”

A similar effort to put a circumcision ban on the ballot in Santa Monica, Calif., was dropped last week.

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