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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Assemblywoman Fiona Ma: Nobody Would Enforce a Circumcision Ban

Posted By on Thu, Jul 21, 2011 at 1:05 PM

Penis patrol
  • Penis patrol

The state is (finally) intervening in the debate on whether San Francisco can criminalize circumcisions on males younger than 18. Assemblywoman Fiona Ma is headed to the city's Sunset District today to announce a new bill that will specifically stop California cities from trying to be on penis patrol.

Ma is wasting no time. The San Francisco Democrat told the Examiner that she is planning to rush her bill through the legislature before the November ballots are printed so that local voters won't even have the option to ban circumcision.

But foreskin activists tell us that Ma has no legal standing.

"We will file a legal challenge if the bills are enacted because they would violate equal protection laws," Matt Hess, who wrote the ballot language for the local circumcision ban, told SF Weekly this morning. "Both California law and U.S. federal law specifically prohibit parents from cutting any part of their daughter's genitals for medically unnecessary reasons, so by extension boys must also be protected."

Hess repeated his longstanding defense -- that the bill would also violate the Supreme Court's Prince vs. Massachusetts decision, which says that while parents are free to make martyrs of themselves, they are not free to make martyrs of their children.

So what if Ma doesn't get her bill passed in time and voters actually opt to pass this controversial law? Ma makes a rather compelling point: Who is actually going to enforce it?

"Making circumcision a crime doesn't seem like it should be a concern of police," Ma tells the Ex. Not to mention, cities really do not have those kind of resources. 

Ma's bill joins a growing list of groups and people who are attempting to get the measure removed from the November ballot. Jewish and Muslim religious leaders earlier this month filed a lawsuit, saying such a ban would violate their freedom of religion. City Attorney Dennis Herrera bolstered their case when he filed a separate motion claiming that a circumcision ban is anti-Semitic and unconstitutional.

The San Francisco Superior Court is scheduled to hear the lawsuit on July 28.

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About The Author

Erin Sherbert

Erin Sherbert

Erin Sherbert was the Online News Editor for SF Weekly from 2010 to 2015. She's a Texas native and has a closet full of cowboy boots to prove it.


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