Circumcision ban to be stricken from SF ballot

July 27, 2011 - 8:28 PM

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A San Francisco judge said Wednesday she intends to strike a ban on male circumcision from the city's November ballot.

Superior Court Judge Loretta Giorgi said in a tentative ruling that the proposed law prohibiting circumcision of male children violates a California law that makes regulating medical procedures a function of the state, not cities.

"It serves no legitimate purpose to allow a measure whose invalidity can be determined as a matter of law to remain on the ballot," Giorgi wrote.

Giorgi ordered San Francisco's elections director to remove the controversial measure from the ballot that would have made the city the first 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 after supporters gathered the required 7,163 signatures, would have made the practice a misdemeanor offense 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 San Francisco city attorney's office, which had joined several Jewish organizations in challenging the ban in court, said Giorgi plans to hear arguments on the issue Thursday before making her ruling final.

The ban's sponsor, anti-circumcision activist Lloyd Schofield, did not immediately respond to a telephone call and email from The Associated Press seeking comment.

Backers had argued the ban was necessary to prevent a form of genital mutilation from being forced on children.

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.

Though state law prohibits cities and counties from regulating medical procedures, two California Assembly members have introduced a bill that would specifically pre-empt local governments from enacting laws regarding male circumcision.