Well it was nip and tuck for awhile, but the circumcision ban has finally made it to the San Francisco ballot. From Bay City News:

A proposal to criminalize male circumcision will go before San Francisco voters this November after the Department of Elections verified Tuesday that supporters have gathered enough signatures to place the measure on the ballot.

Proponents of the circumcision ban submitted 12,271 signatures to the city’s Department of Elections, which was able to verify 7,743 of them, a clerk with the department said today. The measure needed a minimum of 7,168 to qualify.

The organizer of the campaign, Lloyd Schofield, has said he believes male circumcision is wrong, and likens it to female circumcision practices already banned in the U.S.

Local religious groups have strongly opposed the proposal, which they say impinges on their constitutional rights to religious freedom.

The measure would punish people who circumcise a minor with a fine of up to $1,000 or up to a year in jail.

Schofield said today of the certification, “Obviously we’re very pleased, it was a lot of work for a lot of people … and we look forward to continuing that outreach and discussion with the people of San Francisco.”

Here is the initiative’s web site, which includes the proposed law’s exact language:



Except as provided in SEC. 5002, it is unlawful to circumcise, excise, cut, or mutilate the whole or any part of the foreskin, testicles, or penis of another person who has not attained the age of 18 years.


(a) A surgical operation is not a violation of this section if the operation is necessary to the physical health of the person on whom it is performed because of a clear, compelling, and immediate medical need with no less-destructive alternative treatment available, and is performed by a person licensed in the place of its performance as a medical practitioner.

(b) In applying subsection (a), no account shall be taken of the effect on the person on whom the operation is to be performed of any belief on the part of that or any other person that the operation is required as a matter of custom or ritual.


Any person who violates any provisions of this Article shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction such person shall be punished by a fine not to exceed $1,000 or by imprisonment in the County Jail for a period not to exceed one year, or by both such fine and imprisonment.

And that’s the long and the short of it…

Circumcision Ban Makes It To SF Ballot 18 May,2011Jon Brooks

  • David

    I fully support this law as it protects a males right to make their own choice on whether to be circumcised. Circumcision removes over half of the males pleasure sensitive zones. The law is not a ban on circumcision. In fact, it guarantees every male the right to make up their own mind on whether or not they want to be circumcised, to have that right the decision needs to be made when they are able to make their own choice. The bill only protects children from forced circumcisions which are done by force on a child who cannot give consent. This bill protects a childs rights to genital integrity and to religious freedom. Every person has a right to decide what religion they want to be. Religious freedom is not our right to force our religion on others, but a right for us to execute for ourselves. Forced circumcision of children, since it is permanent, takes away that childs right to religious freedom and to make his own choice as to whether or not he wants to commit to a life long religiously motivated incursion on their body. Forced circumcision violates the boys rights to make these choices for himself when he is able to do so, and forces a religion on him for the rest of his life. It is clear that religious freedom does not justify all manner of acts. One cannot use religious freedom to justify a destruction of a body part of a child since the right of the person to physical integrity and to not be subject to an assault takes precedence. If we had a religious cult that demanded cutting off of a boys nipples, we would not say that it is their right to do that to children, it is illegal. If we allow this argument to be used for cutting off of body parts for religious rituals it basically means there is no law or protection of the individual universally from assault. The length at which a crime has been commited for, or the number of people who commit such a crime has no bearing on whether or not it is right or wrong. If we cut off the healthy arms of millions of boys, for thousands of years, this would not make removal of healthy arms acceptable. This law protects and upholds males constitutional rights to religious freedom. This law is not only constitutional, it upholds the constitution. Forced circumcision of boys is an unconstitutional violation and seizure of a males religious freedom. Clearly, female circumcision has been prohibited even though many girls were circumcised for religious reasons. If equal protection of the law is a concept we value, if girls are protected from forced religious circumcision, then so must boys. If it is argued that boys cannot be protected from forced religious circumcision, then neither can girls be protected from it. It is time we give boys equal protection as girls now enjoy from genital cutting. It is currently illegal to so much as pierce a girls genitals, if boys have equal rights, then it is certainly illegal to remove 50% of a males pleasure sensitive genital skin.

  • Kelev

    I’m Jewish and left my sons whole. It is not my right as a parent or a Jew to permanently alter my sons’ bodies in the name of tradition any more than it would be to alter a daughter’s body. I support this ban. Boys deserve the same protections as girls. There are no medical reasons to remove healthy foreskins, and any religious decision to do so should only be made by the person whose body is being is being altered, no one else.

  • Stella Artois

    Not sure if you fellas care much about the female perspective but I’ll give it to you anyway. Euw!
    But more to the point: You want the mom to have the right to whack the baby out of existence while he is in the womb, but freak if she wants him circumcised??
    Crazy people.

    • Kelev

      Stella, lots of men say “ewww!” to uncircumcised females. In fact, labia reduction surgery is all the rage among women in places like LA who feel like their genitals aren’t “streamlined” enough. Maybe female circumcision should just be legalized in America so moms can “fix” their daughters when they’re babies so the girls won’t remember…or be able to say no.

      And there are plenty of anti-circumcision folks who are pro-life. But that’s another issue.

  • Stella Artois

    Dear Kelev-

    LA? Again, another California town with a claim to fame. Sorry, but I don’t think I’d be putting that out there to support my argument. And I cannot say that I have ever heard any real men say that circumcision ruined their sex life. If it ruined yours, you might want to seek counselling to see what is really wrong.

  • Stella Artois: “And I cannot say that I have ever heard any real men say that circumcision ruined their sex life.”
    It doesn’t have to “ruin” their sex life to be a bad thing to do. Bad enough that they feel cheated of all their pleasure their body might have delivered. Check http://www.circumstitions.com/Resent.html for many men who do complain.

    (I like the way you specify “real men” so that you can define them out of manhood if they do complain. This is called the “no true Scotsman” fallacy.)

    Abortionn is a whole nother issue, but do you think human rights END at birth?

    Thanks, Jon, for posting the whole Bill, which is just cut-and-pasted (mutatis mutandis) from the existing FGC law. It would actually have been harder to argue against it if it had been gender neutral. It brings San Francisco (alone) into line with the 14th Amendment.

  • Freedom of religion. This is a parental decision. Government has no business getting involved. Don’t we have better things to do.

    • Kelev

      What about freedom of religion for the baby boys involved? In case you hadn’t heard, freedom of religion, like all freedoms, has limits. Parents can’t withhold medicine in favour of prayer and faith healing; parental freedom of religion is trumped by the welfare and rights of the child. Freedom of religion does not include the freedom to cut girls the way many Muslims believe is scripturally supported. The government gets involved to say that’s not allwoed. This is a perfect place for government to intervene. I’m sure the boys involved would agree.

  • I had the proceedure preformed on me when I was born and I didn’t walk for a year.

    • Kelev

      Over 200 infant boys die from circumcision every year in the US alone. They had the procedure done when they were born and didn’t walk, crawl, breathe, or even live ever again.

      • leah

        prove it! where did you get this “fact” from???

        • Kat

          It is actually estimated at 117, leah. So, although 200 is more than the actual estimate, that is 117 children who did not need to die.

          Journal Thymos: Journal of Boyhood Studies
          Publisher Men’s Studies Press
          ISSN 1931-9045 (Print)
          1872-4329 (Online)
          Issue Volume 4, Number 1 / Spring 2010
          Pages 78-90
          DOI 10.3149/thy.0401.78
          Online Date Monday, April 26, 2010

  • Steve L

    If circumcision should be illegal because the baby should have a say, i.e., the parents should not make that decision, should not abortion be illegal in SF as well? I mean shouldn’t the fetus, who can live on its own after five months of development in the womb, have a say so on whether it should live outside the womb? Shouldn’t we let it be born and ask him or her if she would like to be killed? I mean since we are talking baby rights, let’s take this further. I know, what if I live in SF after the law is passed and right before my next son is born I have the doctor do the circumcision while my son is still in the womb? That should be legal right? I mean if I can kill the baby in the womb, I should be able to cut a piece of the skin off. Ah, I love to play with the liberal mind. I know, that’s not the same thing . . . that’s a woman’s rights issue, not a baby rights issue, right? And the baby only has rights after birth. Spare me. Anyway, the law is dumb. People will just have the baby outside of SF and SF’s doctors and hospitals will be the losers, no one else.

    • William A. Gooch

      Under the Jewish Religions After 8 days the male was to be cicumsized.What the Dr. say that is easy to keep it Clean, Lot likely to avoied Infections. A man may also have complication when having an erection. The skin may rip or stare.So for phyisical reason It should be done. I have never heard that a man lost any pleasure.

  • Aubrey G.

    I am a 22 year old circumcised Jewish male (as far as biology is concerned I am also at my sexual peak) and I have NEVER ONCE wished that my foreskin was still attached…Neither have any of the ladies I have been with. Also, all the women I have asked are all pretty grossed out by an uncircumcised penis and Stella seems to back me up with that opinion. I would also like to say for the record that I have also never heard of anybody losing pleasure from being circumcised and can say with ABSOLUTE 100% certainty that sex still feels AWESOME for me and my circumcised member.

    The abortion argument has already been made a number of times and judging by the responses to it above, which I can only assume are coming from staunchly liberal uncircumcised men, it’s very clear that you don’t have much of a logical argument and are coming off as very hypocritical. But what else would one expect from those guys?

    Congratulations to all of you for your 7,000 signatures….but my bet is that nobody really cares enough about this issue to even show up to vote on it. Even if your stupid bill passes in California, I am certain that it won’t pass in the rest of America where the normal people live.

    Pretty soon you will be your own free-standing land mass anyway when California finally breaks off from the rest of the continental United States and you guys can all run around with your uncircumcised penises and get signatures for whatever dumb laws you want.

  • Kelev

    Aubrey, watch this video of two Israeli immigrants discussing being circumcised as adults. They are clearly not happy about the results, and one of them calls it “very, very stupid.”

    I am a 39 year old Jewish male and I do wish I had not been circumcised, and have had partners who share my feelings. I have also met numerous people, men and women, who feel that circumcised penises look bizarre. For better or for worse, we are products of our culture and tend to prefer what we are used to. In places where most men are circumcised, yes, you do find people who think that looks better. The same is true in places where female circumcision is practiced. Many men, and women, say that uncircumcised women are gross. I think the ONLY person who should ever be a judge of what is gross or not is the male himself once he is old enough to decide. Period.


Jon Brooks

Jon Brooks is the host and editor of KQED’s health and technology blog, Future of You. He is the former editor of KQED’s daily news blog, News Fix. A veteran blogger, he previously worked for Yahoo! in various news writing and editing roles. He was also the editor of EconomyBeat.org, which documented user-generated content about the financial crisis and recession. Jon is also a playwright whose work has been produced in San Francisco, New York, Italy, and around the U.S. He has written about film for his own blog and studied film at Boston University. He has an MFA in Creative Writing from Brooklyn College.

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