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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update
CALIFORNIA: Gov. Jerry Brown Signs Bill Prohibiting Cities, Counties from Banning Male Circumcision
Steven Harmon
October 3, 2011
Contra Costa Times (10.02.11) - Monday, October 03, 2011

On Sunday, Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law a bill that prohibits cities and counties from banning male circumcision. AB 768 was among 44 measures Brown approved; he vetoed four.

AB 768 was introduced in February by Assembly members Mike Gatto (D-Burbank) and Fiona Ma (D-San Francisco) to head off a San Francisco ballot initiative seeking to ban the procedure. In July, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Loretta Giorgi blocked that proposed measure. According to Giorgi, it violated an existing statute that forbids local governments from regulating medical procedures and flouted federal protection of religious freedom. AB 768 continued to progress through the Legislature even after the ruling.

Opponents of male circumcision argue the practice can have negative mental and sexual health consequences. But medical experts point to its benefits, including a lower risk for female-to-male HIV transmission and cancer. Further, male circumcision is a sacred rite for Jews and Muslims, who lobbied heavily against the ballot initiative.

Gatto argued the ballot measure would strip Californians of "an expression of personal, medical, and religious freedom."