Is Circumcision the Next Civil Rights Issue?
If enough signatures are collected, San Francisco will have the privilege of being the first in America to raise their voices for or against circumcision.
It may sound like an “only in San Francisco” story, but foreskin is a worldwide cause. The ballot measure is supported by the International Coalition for Genital Integrity, Catholics against Circumcision, DOCs: Doctors Opposing Circumcision, and NOCRIC: (try to say this one breath) The National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Center.
The AMA and the American Academy of Pediatrics are neutral on the measure, but do not recommend “routine” circumcision.
The San Francisco law would ban removal of foreskin except for a “compelling medical need,” punishable by up to $1000 and one year in jail. As one wag remarked: “You can leave your heart in San Francisco but not your foreskin.”
Proponents see it as the next big civil rights issue. Infants can hardly give “informed consent.” The statue would forbid circumcision to anyone under 18. The procedure is painful and cruel, they say, violating “mayhem” laws. It has no medical benefits. It is akin to the practice of female genital mutilation.
Oy vey! Waqf! The law would affect Jews and Muslims in particular, the two religions that practice circumcision as a ritual. The issue might even spark a new religious war. In response, a group called Jews Against Communion is threatening to launch a petition to prohibit the practice of providing wine to underage children in Church rituals. What’s good for the rabbi is good for the priest.
Putting aside other arguments, opponents argue that this is a freedom of religion issue. A leading constitutional lawyer agrees. The court would have to rule that the state’s interest in the case outweighs the free exercise of religion.Continued on the next page