It’s official. A controversial petition effort has succeeded in San Francisco. This November, the city’s voters will decide whether or not to ban infant circumcision.
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.
This would be the first ban of its kind in the United States. It would undoubtedly trigger litigation from religious groups alleging a First Amendment violation. Circumcision has religious significance for Jews and Muslims.
While religious freedom is surely threatened by the San Fran proposal, the larger threat is against parental rights. The vote evokes a question which serves as a litmus test separating libertarians from communitarians. Are parents the natural custodians of their children, or mere civil guardians beholden to the judgment of others?
A Potential Violation Of Religious Freedom?
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.
“Inactivists” seek to make it “unlawful to circumcise
Schofield and the “inactivists” seek to make it “unlawful to circumcise, excise, cut, or mutilate the whole or any part of the foreskin, testicles, or penis” of anyone 17 or younger in San Francisco. Under the proposal, a person who violates the proposed ban could be jailed (not more than one year) or fined (not more than $1,000). Exemptions for religious reasons would not be allowed.