State

Judge orders circumcision ban off SF ballot

Thursday, July 28, 2011
In this Sunday, May 15, 2011 photo, Benjamin Abecassis closes his eyes during his Bris, a Jewish circumcision ceremony in San Francisco. San Francisco voters in November will be asked to weigh in on what was until now a private family matter: male circumcision. City elections officials confirmed Wednesday, May 18, 2011 that an initiative that would ban the circumcision of males younger than 18 in San Francisco has received enough signatures to appear on the ballot. The practice would become a misdemeanor. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

In this Sunday, May 15, 2011 photo, Benjamin Abecassis closes his eyes during his Bris, a Jewish circumcision ceremony in San Francisco. San Francisco voters in November will be asked to weigh in on what was until now a private family matter: male circumcision. City elections officials confirmed Wednesday, May 18, 2011 that an initiative that would ban the circumcision of males younger than 18 in San Francisco has received enough signatures to appear on the ballot. The practice would become a misdemeanor. (AP Photo/Noah Berger) (AP Photo)

A judge on Thursday struck a measure from the city's November ballot calling for a ban on male circumcision, saying the proposed law violates a California law that makes regulating medical procedures a function of the state, not cities.

The ruling by Superior Court Judge Loretta Giorgi confirmed a tentative decision she issued a day earlier and came after she heard arguments from proponents of the ban.

Michael Kinane, an attorney for the proponents, told Giorgi circumcision was not a medical procedure. He also said the ballot measure included an exception in cases where circumcision was needed for health reasons.

Giorgi was not swayed and ordered San Francisco's elections director to remove the measure from the ballot. San Francisco would have been the first city in the nation to hold a public vote on whether to outlaw the circumcision of minors.

The citizens' initiative, which made the ballot in May, would have made the practice a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 or up to one year in jail.

The initiative did not offer exemptions for religious rituals such as the Jewish bris or Muslim khitan.

The city attorney's office had joined several Jewish organizations in challenging the ban in court.

Backers had argued the ban was necessary to prevent a form of genital mutilation from being forced on children. Kinane pointed out Thursday that the federal government bans female circumcision.

Critics contended the initiative posed a threat to constitutionally protected religious freedoms and cited comic books and trading cards distributed by the measure's proponents that carried images of a blonde, blue-eyed superhero and four evil Jewish characters.

(Copyright ©2014 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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