Jewish groups and others are up at arms over an attempt to outlaw male circumcision in San Francisco by putting the issue to a popular vote.
Self-described "intactivist" Lloyd Schofield has been collecting signatures for a voter initiative that would criminalize infant circumcision in the Californian city.
After two months of collecting names, he claims to be more than half way toward getting the 7,168 signatures he needs by late April to put the matter on the November ballot.
Schofield and a growing community of anti-circumcision activists say that infants should not be forced to participate in what is essentially culturally accepted genital mutilation.
They claim that the procedure can cause health risks and diminished sexual function and compare it to the clitoridectomies performed on girls in parts of Africa.
"This is a human rights issue," he said. "What you're doing is you're taking an infant and removing the most sensitive part of their body."
Jewish organizations have pledged to fight the measure should it be placed on the ballot. Anti-Defamation League director Daniel Sandman called Schofield's effort discriminatory and misguided.
"This is hurtful and offensive to people in the community who consider this a coveted ritual," he said.
Abby Porth of the Jewish Community Relations Council charged Schofield with wasting city resources for an inappropriate political stunt that was unlikely to become law.
"This is one of the most fundamental practices to our tradition of over 3,000 years," she said. "It's symbolic of our covenant with God."
Porth said the Jewish community would form a coalition against the initiative with medical professionals and Muslims, who also practice circumcision.
"It's very similar to those of the Jewish faith," said Omar Nawaz of the Bay Area-based Zaytuna College, one of the nation's only Muslim colleges. "It's a religious tradition and it's important for us."
Both pro- and anti-circumcision advocates make health claims, but the medical research does not firmly support either position.MORE
Thank you Battleskin~