Santa Monica Might Become Next Battleground in the Circumcision Debate - NBC Southern California

Santa Monica Might Become Next Battleground in the Circumcision Debate

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    Rabbi Yisroel Levitansky of Santa Monica's Chabad House has a strong opinion about prospects for a ballot initiative regarding circumcision.

    He said it doesn't matter if it passes. Jews will continue to practice the medical procedure, which is also an ancient Jewish religious rite.

    "America is for freedom of religion," said Levitansky. "And we have the right to practice this commandment."

    Those who oppose circumcision don't see it that way. They call themselves "Intactivists."

    Santa Monica Could Be Next Battleground in Circumcision Debate

    [LA] Santa Monica Could Be Next Battleground in Circumcision Debate
    Opponents of circumcision have launched a signature campaign to put the issue on the ballot in 2012. It's already on the ballot in San Francisco later this year. Is it a medical issue or a religious issue? It might be both.
    (Published Wednesday, May 25, 2011)

    The procedure, most often practiced on infants, involves strapping newborns to a board in a hospital for the surgical removal of the penis foreskin.

    NBC LA found several people on the Third Street promenade who opposed the practice, including nurse Melissa Jones. After observing the procedure on numerous occasions, she and her husband decided not to have it done to their son.

    "I don't believe it is a necessary procedure," said Jones. "I don't believe there is a cleanliness issue and I don't think its necessary."

    In San Francisco, a city vote is already set for the ballot later next year. That proposition would make the circumcision of a boy under 18 a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of $1,000. If it passes, the measure is sure to face a court fight where the court would have to decide if circumcision Is harmful to underage patients who have no control over the matter

    Now, an anti-circumcision group is trying to put the same sort of measure on the ballot in Santa Monica. They don't have enough signatures yet, and it's not a sure thing they will get them.

    Our informal survey on the Promenade found lots of people who opposed circumcision, but few who thought the issue worthy of a vote.

    "It's a cultural issue and a health issue, but it's a personal decision," said Ellen Costa, also a nurse.

    As for Rabbi Levitansky, he says a ban would force "moyels" to go underground.

    "We will continue to practice this commandment, " said Levitansky, "Nothing will stop us at all."

    Prop Zero's Joe Mathews weighs in on the circumcision debate.