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A ballot measure that would ban circumcisions, even those performed for religious reasons, in California has been removed from the ballot by a San Francisco judge, is reporting.  The city's Superior Court Judge Loretta Giorgi wrote that male circumcision is "a widely practiced medical procedure" and that medical services are left to the regulation of the state, not individual cities.

The decision was hailed by the American Civil Liberties Union's Northern California branch: "It's unusual for a judge to order an initiative off the ballot, but the proposed circumcision ban presented that rare case where the court should block an election on an initiative," said ACLU-NC staff attorney Margaret Crosby in a statement.  "Not only is the ban patently illegal,  it also threatened family privacy and religious freedom.  The court's order protects fundamental constitutional values in San Francisco."

Anti-circumcision activists were disappointed in the ruling.

"To remove an initiative before it comes on ballot is an extraordinarily irregular thing to do," Lloyd Schofield, who is part of a Bay Area advocacy group that says the surgery violates human rights and likens it to "male genital mutilation," told CNN, "To go to this length to have it struck from the ballot is undemocratic."

Last week in Santa Monica, the other California city considering an anti-circumcision ballot measure, the city council heard a request from the Mayor's office to support pending state legislation that would put male circumcision under the regulatory control of the state, preventing any local bans from being enforceable.

The ballot measure would have made circumcision a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of $1,000 or up to a year in jail.