San Francisco Superior Court Judge Loretta Giorgi on Wednesday issued a tentative ruling saying the proposed ballot measure to ban circumcision in the city must be withdrawn, calling it “expressly preempted” by state law.
Lloyd Schofield, 59 year old anti-circumcision activist, was determined to have male circumcision banned by legislation in San Francisco. For starters, he gathered 12,000 signatures, while ony 7,168 are required for the city of 750,000 by the city’s Department of Elections, for his proposal to be placed on the ballet in the November 8th San Francisco elections .
The measure, which would only apply in San Francisco, was intended make it a crime to circumcise a minor, regardless of the parents’ religious beliefs. The maximum penalty would be a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
The ban’s campaign material included anti-Semitic comic books depicting a mohel as the sinister villain “Foreskin Man”, in the inimitable style of the Protocol of the Elders of Zion and the Nazi Der Sturmer.
According to the Associated Press the plaintiffs of record in the lawsuit filed against the measure included five Jews, three Muslims, two doctors who regularly perform the procedure, the local chapter of the Jewish Community Relations Council and the national Anti-Defamation League (ADL).
Volunteers have been working at debunking the misconceptions about circumcision, citing medical and freedom of religion issues.
Judge Giorgi put the controversy on hold by stating on Wednesday that the California Business and Professions Code prohibits local regulation of medical procedures.
She added that it “serves no legitimate purpose” for an illegal measure to remain on the ballot and ordered elections Chief John Arntz to remove it. According to Arntz, after Sept. 1 it will be difficult to remove the proposal from the ballots because they go to the printers. Ideally, the judge will have issued a ruling by that date, stopping the proposal in its tracks.
If the law is on the ballot and passes, it will run up against an overriding state and/or federal law, so there is no chance of the circumcision restrictions ever taking effect.
Abby Porth, associate director of the Jewish Community Relations Council, said she’s delighted the “extreme and hurtful” measure might not even appear before voters.
“The idea we would put doctors in jail for performing a procedure with known health benefits that parents request for their children is outrageous,” she said.
“Even if it made the ballot, we don’t believe it would have passed,” Porth said.