California Blocks Circumcision Ban Across State

A new California law blocks a circumcision ban in parts of the state. Governor Jerry Brown made the announcement on Sunday that he had signed the bill. An opposition group had been trying to force San Francisco officials to make a city-wide to end the practice in a November ballot measure.

A judge had blocked the measure from the ballot in July, and it was removed. The judge stated the reason for his ruling was that a California ban would infringe on religious circumcision freedom.

The measure for the ban had gained 12,000 signatures, and it would have made it a misdemeanor to have a boy circumcised before the age of 18 no matter the parents religious beliefs. A similar California circumcision was proposed in Santa Monica but was later withdrawn.

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Most opposed to the proposed ban were Jewish groups. Religious law states that male circumcision is a ‘mitzva aseh (“positive commandment” to perform an act) and is obligatory for Jewish-born males and for non-circumcised Jewish male converts. It is only postponed or abrogated in the case of a threat to the life or health of the child.

There is controversy regarding the male procedure and arguments have been raised in opposition alleging that it adversely affects penile function and sexual pleasure, is justified only by medical myths, is extremely painful, and is a violation of human rights.

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Those raised in favor of the California ban conclude that it provides important health advantages, which outweigh the risks, has no substantial effects on sexual function, has a low complication rate when carried out by an experienced physician, and is best performed during the neonatal period.

Ethical questions have been raised over removing healthy genital tissue from a minor. Opponents state that infant circumcision infringes upon individual autonomy and represents a violation. Some physicians are using it as a way of preventing HIV in high prevalence, low-income countries in sub-Saharan Africa.