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Should circumcision be outlawed? It just might be in San Francisco

Before the year is up, parents in San Francisco may no longer have the option of getting a boy snipped.

A group against circumcision of male children has gathered enough signatures to have a proposed ban on the foreskin-cutting procedure included in the November ballot, the Associated Press reports.

If the ban is approved, circumcision of minors would be punishable by a fine of up to $1,000, or up to one year in jail.

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No exceptions for Jewish families or parents who simply want a son's willy to look like Dad's.

"Guardians have to do what's in the best interest of the child. It's his body. It's his choice," anti-circumcision activist Lloyd Schofield told reporters.

But Jewish leaders said the measure could violate First Amendment protection of religious freedoms.

"For a city that's renowned for being progressive and open-minded, to even have to consider such an intolerant proposition ... sets a dangerous precedent for all cities and states," said Rabbi Gil Yosef Leeds, a certified "mohel" who performs ritual circumcisions.

The World Health Organization recommends circumcision to reduce the spread of HIV, especially in AIDS-ravaged African countries. But according to the Associated Press, studies have shown that circumcision doesn't protect against HIV in gay men, the main population in which the virus spreads in the United States.

In Canada, parents must pay up to $300 out of pocket to have the procedure done.

Infant circumcision rates dropped to 32 per cent in 2006 from 47 per cent in 1973, The Globe and Mail reported. And the Canadian Paediatric Society has indicated that circumcision is "not medically necessary."

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" Intactivists"- individuals who vocally oppose male infant circumcision - couldn't agree more.

But here's hoping a ban doesn't result in a booming business for dodgy circumcisionists.

Would you support an anti-circumcision ban?

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About the Author

Adriana Barton is based in The Globe and Mail’s Vancouver bureau. Her article on growing up with counterculture parents is published in a McGraw-Hill anthology, right after an essay by Margaret Atwood. She wishes her last name didn’t start with B. More

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