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Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a bill prohibiting cities and counties from banning male circumcision, his office announced today.

Assembly Bill 768 by Assemblyman Mike Gatto, D-Los Angeles, was inspired by a San Francisco ballot measure designed to prohibit child circumcision there. A judge in July ordered the circumcision ban off the November ballot, but Gatto's bill proceeded through the Legislature, where it passed with unanimous votes.

Gatto argued that such bans were an affront to the exercise of "personal, medical and religious freedom."

San Francisco's first-of-its-kind initiative drew national attention for targeting circumcision, removal of the male foreskin, a practice that has biblical roots and that many believe was commanded by God in a covenant with Abraham. Opponents of circumcision liken it to "genital mutilation" - the forced removal of a healthy body part from an unconsenting child.

U.S. circumcision rates have been declining for several years. Today, about half of all boys born in hospitals are circumcised, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.



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