A group in San Francisco has collected enough signatures to force a vote on a law that would make it illegal to “circumcise, excise, cut or mutilate the foreskin, testicle or penis of another person who has not attained the age of 18.” This ban, if it passes, might infringe on the First Amendment guarantee to freedom of religion. Constitutional or not, it is without a doubt a slap in the face to Muslims and Jews, an attack on their rights to privacy that would keep them from continuing a millennial tradition of their ancestors, not to mention keeping them from raising their children according to their own conscience and values.
The subject of circumcision is often relegated to the realm of jokes and cheeky double-entendres, but a San Francisco ballot initiative now gaining momentum would ban the practice, and it raises some very serious issues. At the heart of the current controversy are three fundamental questions. First, is circumcising an infant wrong? Second, should infant circumcision be against the law? And third, would banning circumcision infringe on the rights of those who practice it as part of their religions?