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San Francisco circumcision ban vote may be derailed by new bill

San Francisco could not ban circumcision of children under new state legislation proposed this month in the Assembly.

Assembly Bill 768 would apply to any city or county government but was introduced in response to a San Francisco ballot measure designed to prohibit child circumcision there.

"To enact an outright ban on an expression of personal, medical and religious freedom is an affront to all who value liberty," said Assemblyman Mike Gatto, a Los Angeles Democrat who proposed AB 768.

San Francisco's first-of-its-kind initiative has drawn national attention for targeting circumcision, removal of the male foreskin, a practice that has biblical roots and that many believe was commanded by God in a covenant with Abraham.

Opponents of circumcision liken it to "genital mutilation" – the forced removal of a healthy body part from an unconsenting child. The San Francisco initiative allows for a medical exclusion but not a religious exclusion.

Lloyd Schofield, the main proponent of the initiative, said last month that "just because something has been done repeatedly doesn't make it moral or ethical."

If San Francisco's initiative is approved and enacted, violators could be jailed for a year, fined $1,000 – or both.

AB 768 was introduced as an urgency measure, meaning that it requires a two-thirds vote of the Legislature and would take effect immediately if it clears that threshold and Gov. Jerry Brown signs it.

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