By REBECCA WALD
It has just been announced that Joan Arntz, Director of Elections for the City and County of San Francisco, has certified that the San Francisco MGMbill (male genital mutilation bill) has successfully gathered more than enough signatures to be placed on the ballot in November.
Should the initiative become law it will become a misdemeanor crime, punishable by an up to $1000 fine and one year in prison, to “circumcise, excise, cut, or mutilate the whole or any part of the foreskin, testicles or penis of another person who has not attained the age of 18 years.” There is no religious exemption.
There is much I might say about the proposed ban, which will no doubt continue the upset the Jewish community both in San Francisco and beyond, but for today I would like to make the following brief statement:
As a Jewish person and a circumcision opponent, I support the efforts of San Franciscans to ban circumcision. Their work is bringing this important human rights affront to the national stage. And I think infant circumcision is really such an awful thing that it should be elevated to the status of a crime. At the same time, I think much more education needs to take place, at the community level, before the wrongfulness of infant circumcision will be broadly understood and accepted. There is a right time for everything, and I do question whether now is the right time for a circumcision ban without a religious exemption. My concern is that people will be so up-in-arms about the perceived violation of religious freedom that they will be unable to hear the important message the anti-circumcision movement is working so hard to get out. Efforts to impose bans might do more harm than good. I don’t think this is going to be the case, but I don’t know. Despite this reservation, or any others I might have, today I applaud everyone who has been involved in bringing the San Francisco MGMbill to a vote of the people.