San Francisco Circumcision Ban

Creative Commons License photo credit: daipresents

Circumcision has, in some circles, been viewed as a somewhat controversial practice over the past few years. Take, for example, the effort in San Francisco to ban the practice outright. Politicians there have put a measure on the local ballot that would prohibit circumcision for men and boys under the age of 18 unless there is a “medical necessity” to having the procedure.

Effectively, this would end the practice of infant circumcision in that city. Obviously, this is big news, as the practice hasn’t been banned anywhere else in the United States up to this point. Proponents of the measure say that it’s an unnecessary procedure, that it’s painful for the infant and that it creates unnecessary health risks.

Those opposed to the circumcision ban argue that it’s perfectly within parents’ rights to make the decision about circumcision for their infant. There are a number of cultural and religious traditions that consider circumcision a rite of passage. Those opposed to the measure include the City of San Francisco, the ACLU, the San Francisco Medical Society, a number of different religious groups, and more.

The proposed ballot measure would allow the question to be put on the ballot in November. It’s being proposed by a citizen group led by Lloyd Schofield.

Meanwhile, politicians in Sacramento aren’t letting the measure go unnoticed. Legislators are considering a state law that will prevent the proposed ban in San Francisco. Specifically, the proposed state law would state that no local government can “prohibit or restrict” male circumcision.

This proposed ban comes at an interesting time. More and more, researchers are discovering that circumcision can actually provide a number of health benefits. In research in South Africa, for example, villages where circumcision has been offered to adult males has led to a dramatic reduction in the spread of HIV, and the WHO has officially recommended male circumcision.

It will be interesting to see what happens over the next few months in San Francisco. Whether or not the state lawmakers are able to pass their bill will determine whether the proposed ban makes it to the ballot or not.

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