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The Question

A proposal to ban the circumcision of male children in San Francisco has been cleared to appear on the November ballot, setting the stage for the nation's first public vote on what has long been considered a private family matter. If the measure passes, circumcision would be prohibited among males under the age of 18. The practice would become a misdemeanor offense punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 or up to one year in jail. There would be no religious exemptions. Supporters of the ban say male circumcision is a form of genital mutilation that is unnecessary, extremely painful and even dangerous. They say parents should not be able to force the decision on their young child. What do you think? Who should decide such questions?

Core Ritual of Religious Community

Richard W. Garnett

The proposed law would outlaw an ancient and core ritual of a religious community and given the fact that, the overheated rhetoric of many of the proposal's supporters notwithstanding, the practice in question is not seriously harmful, the law should, at the very least, include a religious exemption.

Constitutional Challenges to Purposed Ban & Their Likely Results

Alan E. Brownstein

I believe an ordinance banning male circumcision for minors would not withstand rigorous judicial scrutiny. The question is whether or not the ordinance would be subjected to meaningful judicial review.

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