Published June 07, 2011
The proponent of a ballot measure to ban circumcision in a California city has dropped the effort following claims of anti-Semitic themes and imagery, including a comic book that featured a "Monster Mohel."
Jena Troutman, the Santa Monica woman who submitted the proposal to the Santa Monica city clerk last month, said she has withdrawn the measure to prohibit "Genital Cutting of Male Minors." Under the measure, which needed more than 6,000 signatures to go on the November 2012 ballot, circumcising a child under the age of 18 would have been a misdemeanor offense punishable by a $1,000 fine or a year in jail.
Troutman, a lactation consultant and mother of two, told FoxNews.com that her focus was "never about religion" when she submitted the initiative, which was written by a San Diego-based group called MGMbill.org, the same organization that authored the measure to ban circumcision that will appear on the ballot in San Francisco this November.
"I don't have the time or the energy to argue with everybody, but you shouldn't go around cutting up your little babies," Troutman said. "Why don't people [expletive] get that? For me, this was never about religion. It was about protecting babies from their parents not knowing that circumcision was started in America to end masturbation."
Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom confirmed the news on his Facebook page late Monday.
Bloom wrote: "The proponent of the Santa Monica ballot initiative to ban circumcision just left a msg 4 me that she is WITHDRAWING the measure!!"
During Tuesday's telephone interview, Troutman distanced herself from MGMbill.org, which is led by Matthew Hess, the author of the "Foreskin Man" cartoon, which depicts a blond superhero taking on a character named "Monster Mohel." Several critics, including the Anti-Defamation League, have blasted the publication as "disrespectful and deeply offensive."
"I respect and appreciate the Jewish religion and people's delicate feelings about their religious customs," she said, adding that she originally sought a religious exemption for the proposed ban but ultimately declined to include one since it would have been unconstitutional.
Still, "bodily integrity and genital autonomy" are human rights, she said.
"I'm tired of it being about religion," Troutman continued. "For over a million babies a year, they're being cut for no reason."
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, male circumcision has been associated with a lower risk for HIV infection in international observational studies and in three randomized controlled clinical trials.
"It is possible, but not yet adequately assessed, that male circumcision could reduce male-to-female transmission of HIV, although probably to a lesser extent than female-to-male transmission," a CDC website reads. "Male circumcision has also been associated with a number of other health benefits. Although there are risks to male circumcision, serious complications are rare."
Hess told Fox News that the case has brought attention to his group's message.
"Even though there will be no ballot measure in Santa Monica, Jena did help bring additional exposure to the problem of forced circumcision in this country, and that alone is an important accomplishment," he said.
Unlike in Santa Monica, Troutman confirmed that a measure banning male circumcision of minors will still appear on the ballot in San Francisco. If passed, the measure would make it a misdemeanor crime punishable by a $1,000 fine or a year in jail.
Amanda Susskind, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League's Pacific Southwest region, characterized the news as a "welcome" development.
"Everybody is happy that this particular petition isn't going forward," Susskind told FoxNews.com. "[But] there's a movement, so our concern is that they'll find someone else in Santa Monica to file [another initiative] on their behalf."
Susskind continued, "The main issue for us is the right for a parent to choose the religious upbringing of a child and I think that is a concept that resonates with most people."