This November, voters in two California cities will consider a ballot measure that would ban circumcision on male children under age 18.  San Francisco and Santa Monica's ballots will vote on the measure, referred to as the Male Genital Mutilation bill.  If it passes, parents who circumcise their sons, even for religious reasons, would face a penalty of $1,000 and a year in prison.

Opponents of the bill, including Jewish and Muslim leaders who have filed lawsuits against the Department of Elections for allowing the measure onto the ballot, argue that circumcision falls under the freedom of religion protections of the First Amendment.  Supporters say that the practice is both painful and unnecessary from a health standpoint.

The Boston Globe put the debate into global context with an article on research from the International AIDS Society linking increased circumcision rates with lower rates of HIV infection.

HIV affects more than 15,000 men in San Francisco alone, and last week, the California state assembly proposed a bill that would either keep the circumcision ban off the ballot in November or render it moot if the legislation passes after ballots are printed.