Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.
Breaking News

Lawsuit Filed To Remove Circumcision Bill From Ballot

Opponents of a proposition to ban circumcision in San Francisco are suing to have the measure removed from the November ballot.

The lawsuit was filed Wednesday in California Superior Court by plaintiffs including the Jewish Community Relations Council, the Anti-Defamation League, several physicians, and Jewish and Muslim families.

Although public opposition to the ballot measure has centered on religious freedom and the health benefits of circumcision, the lawsuit is more narrowly focused on the fact that medical procedures in California are regulated by the state, not by local municipalities.

Cal. Bus & Prof. Code 460(b) denies any California city the power to restrict a state-licensed healing professional from performing any procedure that falls within the recognized scope of that profession. Thus, the lawsuit states, a ban on circumcision, which is a medical procedure under state protection, cannot legally be enacted by a city. Placing such a ban on a city ballot is invalid and a waste of money, the suit claims.

The ballot measure would make it a misdemeanor to circumcise any male under the age of 18 within city limits. Violators would face a $1,000 fine and a year in jail. It was placed on the November ballot in May by a coalition of anti-circumcision groups.

A similar ballot proposal in Santa Monica, Calif., was withdrawn by its supporters following the outcry generated by the San Francisco ballot measure, which some opponents claim is motivated by anti-Semitism.

Both Jews and Muslims circumcise their boys as part of their faith.

Physicians have come out in opposition to the measure, saying it would prevent them from performing their job in the way they see fit.

“This measure would put me and hundreds of other doctors in jail for performing a procedure with known health benefit and global health implications,” said Dr. Brian McBeth, a litigant in the case who works in the department of emergency medicine at San Francisco General Hospital.

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.