Re­lief as judge blocks vote to ban the brit

The Jewish Chronicle - - World News - BY JEN­NIFER LIP­MAN

IN THE end, it was a battle that even Fore­skin Man could not win.

Nearly nine months af­ter cam­paign­ers in San Fran­cisco launched a bid to make the cir­cum­ci­sion of males un­der the age of 18 il­le­gal, a judge or­dered the mea­sure to be re­moved from a pub­lic vote.

San Fran­cisco res­i­dents had been set to vote on a ban in Novem­ber, af­ter the con­tro­ver­sial pro­posal at­tracted more than the min­i­mum 7,168 sig­na­tures re­quired by the city for ini­tia­tives to be added to a pub­lic bal­lot.

If it had been suc­cess­ful, the pro­posal would have made it a “mis­de­meanour to cir­cum­cise, ex­cise, cut or mu­ti­late the fore­skin, tes­ti­cle or pe­nis of an­other per­son who has not at­tained the age of 18”.

There was to be no ex­emp­tion for re­li­gious Jewish or Mus­lim cer­e­monies, and those who breached the rules would have faced up to a year in jail or a £6,100 fine.

A broad coali­tion, in­clud­ing J ewish and Mus­lim groups and med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als, vowed to fight the pro­posal, spurred on when it emerged that one of the lead­ing an­ti­cir­cum­ci­sion cam­paign­ers was be­hind a comic book fea­tur­ing a Mon­ster Mo­hel, an Aryan su­per­hero and other char­ac­ters la­belled “an­tisemitic” by the Anti-Defama­tion League (ADL).

Cam­paign­ers also com­pared male cir­cum­ci­sion to fe­male gen­i­tal mu­ti­la­tion, which is banned by the US fed­eral gov­ern­ment.

A sim­i­lar pro­posal was dropped in nearby Santa Mon­ica be­cause one of the main cam­paign­ers ob­jected to re­li­gion be­ing brought into the de­bate. In San Fran­cisco, those op­posed to the ban be­gan legal pro­ceed­ings in June call­ing for the mea­sure to be scrapped from the bal­lot.

This week they cel­e­brated a vic­tory when Su­pe­rior Court Judge Loretta Giorgi ruled that the mea­sure would be “ex­pressly pre-empted” be­cause un­der Cal­i­for­nian state law cities can­not reg­u­late med­i­cal prac­tice.

She said that ev­i­dence showed that cir­cum­ci­sion was “a widely prac­tised med­i­cal pro­ce­dure” and there­fore could not be lim­ited, al­though she also ac­knowl­edged there was a “le­git­i­mate de­bate” to be had on the is­sue.

She also said a ban would vi­o­late the con­sti­tu­tion­ally pro­tected right to free­dom of re­li­gion, be­cause cir­cum­ci­sion is part of both Jewish and Mus­lim wor­ship.

Her de­ci­sion was praised by Jewish groups. “It is up to par­ents to make the choice whether or not to have their baby boys cir­cum­cised,” said Abby Michel­son Porth, of the Jewish Com­mu­nity Re­la­tions Coun­cil.

The ADL wel­comed it as “a crit­i­cal af­fir­ma­tion of re­li­gious free­dom and parental rights”. Nancy Ap­pel, the ADL’s as­so­ciate re­gional di­rec­tor, said: “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.”

She also said she was heart­ened by the judge’s de­ci­sion not to ac­cept the com­par­i­son with fe­male gen­i­tal mu­ti­la­tion.

Sup­port­ers of the ban said they were con­sid­er­ing an ap­peal. “We will not stop un­til all men are pro­tected from this dam­ag­ing and harm­ful surgery,” said lead ac­tivist Lloyd Schofield.

Struck out: Judge Giorgi

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.