Opponents of SF circumcision ban file lawsuit


Leticia Preza is one out of several who are suing the city of San Francisco over the ballot measure that would ban circumcisions for baby boys.

"For me, as a Muslim, anything that would impede my practice is something I would have to stand up against," Preza said.

For Preza and other Muslim and Jewish plaintiffs who gathered at the superior court today, the proposed ban is a matter of religious freedom, but for doctors, there is another issue entirely.

"Clearly it affects physicians -- the proposed ban -- is suggesting physicians be jailed for performing what's a routine, commonplace medical procedure," said Dr. Brian McBeth.

The crux of the lawsuit argues that state law prohibits local governments like San Francisco from restricting medical procedures, and therefore the proposal should not be allowed to go to voters.

"By relying on this state statute, we are making it clear to both parents and doctors (that) the law protects you," said attorney Michael Jacobs, who is representing several plaintiffs in the case.

Those behind the circumcision ban initiative don't see things that way.

"This is not so much regulating medical procedures as it is restricting cosmetic surgery from being forced onto minors," said circumcision ban supporter Jonathan Conte.

Conte helped collect enough signatures to put the proposed ban on the ballot. Conte calls circumcision painful, risky and harmful and believes the lawsuit filed today could actually influence the court of public opinion.

"Anything that helps people bring up the topic of circumcision and discuss it, I think, is a positive effect of whatever the outcome is," said Conte. "This is something that has flown under the radar for far too long in this country, and people need to discuss it."

The proposed initiative certainly has sparked a heated debate. The plaintiffs in the case are asking for a hearing next month and a decision before San Francisco sends its November ballot to the printer, which is normally the first week in September.

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