The SFMS Executive Committee has voted to support the Coalition opposing the San Francisco ballot initiative to criminalize performing circumcisions. Please see below for excerpts from a MedPage article published yesterday, June 23, 2011:
A proposal to ban male infant circumcision in San Francisco, scheduled for a city-wide vote in November, may be pulled off the ballot if a lawsuit filed by physicians, Jewish groups, and a Muslim family is successful.
The ballot initiative was started by individuals who believe circumcision is a form of genital mutilation, sometimes called “intactivists.” In May, they filed petitions with enough signatures to qualify for placement on the November ballot.
It would make it “unlawful to circumcise, excise, cut, or mutilate the whole or any part of the foreskin, testicles, or penis of another person who has not attained the age of 18 years,” with fines and jail terms possible for violators.
The lawsuit against the proposal cited a California law prohibiting cities from setting restrictions on medical procedures.
According to the suit, cities may not “prohibit a healing arts professional licensed within the state … from engaging in any act or performing any procedure that falls within the professionally recognized scope of practice of that licensee.”
One of the physician plaintiffs in the suit, Brian McBeth, MD, of San Francisco General Hospital’s emergency department, said in a statement that circumcision has definite medical benefits that would be imperiled by the ban.
He told of a six-year-old uncircumcised boy presenting with his foreskin stuck in a retracted position resulting in severe pain and swelling—all consequent to his parents’ unsuccessful efforts to treat an infection of the foreskin.
Pediatrician and obstetrician groups have endorsed parental rights to decide whether their children should be circumcised.
Most city officials in San Francisco have stated their opposition to the proposed ban, as have the AAP’s California chapter and the San Francisco Medical Society.