By Jennifer Medina
The Los Angeles Times
LOS ANGELES — The primary backer of an effort to get a ban on circumcision on the ballot in Santa Monica is abandoning her push, saying the proposed legislation had been misrepresented as an effort to impinge on religious freedom. A similar measure in San Francisco is scheduled for a fall vote.
The woman, Jena Troutman, a mother of two boys who began the process of trying to get a ban on the Santa Monica municipal ballot in 2012, said the news media had distorted the effort.
“The religious opposition really rose up, and I never intended it to be about that at all,” Ms. Troutman said. “Ninety-five percent of babies who are circumcised have nothing to do with religion — that’s what I was focused on. Once I discovered this bill was not going to open up the conversation but was closing it down, I wanted no part of it.”
Ms. Troutman said she wanted to focus on educating parents through the Web site she runs, wholebabyrevolution.com.
In recent days, criticism of the two measures had focused on their author, Matthew Hess, who lives in San Diego and created an online comic called “Foreskin Man,” which features characters like “Monster Mohel.” Several organizations, including the Anti-Defamation League, said the comic relied on anti-Semitic imagery.
Mr. Hess defended the comic, saying it was intended to be from a baby’s point of view. “It was designed to really evoke a response that talking about studies and statistics never does,” Mr. Hess said. “What would that baby be thinking other than ‘That man coming at me with a knife is a monster’?”
Mr. Hess said Tuesday that he was optimistic about the prospect of the ban passing in San Francisco.
Catherine Schneider, senior vice president of community engagement at the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, which had begun efforts to fight the plan, said she was relieved that the issue had been dropped in Santa Monica. But, she said, many leaders expect that similar efforts will crop up in other cities.
“It’s scary to think that we would have had to launch a political campaign to maintain status quo,” she said. “To fight one of these campaigns, you need to raise around $500,000, and in this economy we can all think of better ways to spend that money.”
See Related: Circumcision Ban Archive