San Francisco Voters to Decide on Circumcision Ban in November
San Francisco voters will have the opportunity to vote on a ballot measure that would ban the circumcision of males under the age of 18. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the city’s election officials have confirmed that the measure has qualified for this November’s ballot, when voters will also choose a new mayor, by gathering more than 7,700 valid signatures from city residents.
If the measure, which its sponsors call the San Francisco Male Genital Mutilation bill, passes, it would ban circumcision of all males under the age of 18, making it a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 or up to a year behind bars. It provides no exemptions for those who would circumcise based on religious beliefs.
Lloyd Schofield, the measure’s chief proponent, argues that male circumcision is a form of genital mutilation and is unnecessary, painful and potentially dangerous. He believes that parents don’t have the right to force such an important decision on their children.
“Parents are really guardians, and guardians have to do what’s in the best interest of the child. It’s his body. It’s his choice,” Schofield told the Associated Press. He points out that female genital mutilation, such as the clitoral amputations practiced in some societies in Africa, is illegal in the United States and that a ban on circumcision would simply extend the same protection to males.
Still, the measure faces some stiff resistance. Some say it is a violation of their first amendment right to practice their religion. Jews believe that god commands parents to circumcise their sons. Muslims also practice male genital cutting; although it is not mandated in the Koran, it is mentioned in the Sunnah, the sayings of the Prophet Mohammed.
There are also some significant health benefits to circumcision, including a dramatic reduction in HIV transmission among heterosexual men.
Moral Low Ground supports the ban, believing circumcision to be a barbaric anachronism that has no place in the modern world. We believe that intact genitals are a human right. Plenty of reprehensible practices can be defended on religious grounds, from slave ownership to stoning adulterers to death (mandated under Old Testament Judaism, Christianity and Islam), but that doesn’t make them acceptable. As they have done on countless prior occasions, the San Francisco electorate– among the most intelligent and enlightened anywhere on the planet– has a chance to once again lead the way on an important humanitarian issue. It’s time for San Francisco– and hopefully the rest of the country, eventually– to nip the tip snip in the bud and relegate the barbarism of male genital mutilation to the scrap heap of history.
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