The Shmooze

Will Circumcision Become Illegal in San Francisco?

By Renee Ghert-Zand

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There are some Jews who say that in the 21st century, performing a brit milah (ritual circumcision) on a baby boy is neither desirable nor necessary. For San Francisco residents, however, there is a chance that it may also become illegal. In the city known for being on the cutting edge of many trends, a mohel’s knife may no longer be welcome, no matter how sharp it is.

Although it is not at all certain that a measure banning circumcisions proposed by city resident and anti-circumcision activist Lloyd Schofield will be passed — or even make it onto the ballot next November — San Francisco mohels might want to start thinking about setting up shop outside the city limits, just in case.

In order for the measure to be included on the ballot, Schofield needs to collect more than 7,100 signatures supporting it by April 26, 2011. The measure proposes to change San Francisco’s police code “to make it a misdemeanor to circumcise, excise, cut or mutilate the foreskin, testicle or penis of another person who has not attained the age of 18.”

“You shouldn’t be performing cosmetic surgery for other people…Tattooing a child is banned as a felony and circumcision is more harmful than a tattoo,” Schofield told CBS. “People can practice whatever religion they want, but your religious practice ends with someone else’s body…It’s a man’s body and…his body doesn’t belong to his culture, his government, his religion or even his parents. It’s his decision.”

Should the measure make it on to the ballot and be passed, the penalty for a mohel who chose to follow a higher law would be up to $1,000 and a year in prison. Now, that would hurt.


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