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Santa Monica ballot measure wants to ban circumcision

A baby is seen in a car seat in this undated photo.
May 26, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
There's a controversial proposal that could wind up on the November ballot in Santa Monica. It is a ban on circumcisions for boys.

It is similar to a measure that will be on the November ballot in San Francisco. The proposed law raises issues about religious practices, as well as health concerns.

The decision to circumcise a baby boy is currently the parent's choice. Yet many parents are questioning the practice and rejecting it.

"We decided to not circumcise," Meghan Farrell about her son. "He was born this way, no reason to change him."

Jena Troutman for the Male Genital Mutilation Ballot Initiative (MGM) said the foreskin is an essential body part that should not be amputated. She said it is a delicate membrane that contains two-thirds of the penile nerve endings and comprises half of the penile skin.

The proposed ballot measure would ban the procedure on babies, but would allow it once a male is 18 years old.

"This is the removal of loose skin over the end of the penis," said Dr. Dave Baron. "That is the long answer to the question. Is it mutilation? No it is not mutilation. It is unfair to call it that."

Baron is a physician and a mohel, a doctor who performs the procedure as a rite of the Jewish faith. Though he says it's not essential for good health, he recommends it.

"There is no arguing with this scientific evidence that exists," said Baron. "Boys that are circumcised have a lower rate of urinary tract infections, and a lower rate of sexually transmitted diseases, and a lower risk of transmitting sexually transmitted diseases."

The proposed measure though would legally forbid the practice even for religious reasons.

"Under the 14th Amendment of the Constitution you can't just protect one group and not protect the other," said Troutman.

"It is a decision that should be made in a doctor's office for people who are not doing it for reasons of faith," said Baron. "And should be made in the privacy of a consultation with clergy when it is being made for decisions of faith."

Supporters of the initiative need 6,000 signatures to get on the ballot, but they believe they will get twice that number.


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