Wednesday, 19 October 2011

New Bill Prevents California Authorities from Banning Male Circumcision

California Governor Jerry Brown has signed a new bill that would prevent local authorities in California from banning the practice of male circumcision and making it a punishable offense. With this bill, male circumcision will remain legal in California, and will not be defined as a crime.

The bill gives a final blow to advocacy groups across California that had called for a statewide ban on the practice of male circumcision. These groups had launched efforts in San Francisco and Santa Monica, aimed at banning the practice of male circumcision for any male aged below eighteen in California.

In Santa Monica, supporters failed to get the measure placed on the ballot. In San Francisco, however, the ban gathered enough support to be placed in the ballot in November. Advocacy groups gathered more than 12,000 signatures, in an initiative to get the measure included on the ballot.

The measure would have made male child circumcision an issue not only to be dealt with by doctors and parents, but also Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers. It would have made it a misdemeanor for anyone to circumcise a boy below eighteen years of age. This offense would have been punishable by a $1000 fine and jail time of up to one year. The measure would not have considered any religious beliefs, banning child circumcisions outright. Circumcision is an important religious practice of Muslims and Jews, although most circumcisions performed in the U.S. are not religious in nature. However, in July, a judge struck the measure from the ballot, saying that the ban would constitute an infringement on religious freedom.

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