The legal landscape for cutting children’s genitals is changing
As you probably know, in November 2018, a federal judge in Michigan declared the federal law prohibiting female genital mutilation (fgm) to be unconstitutional. In refusing to convict a group of defendants, including Dr. Jumana Nagarwala, who participated in the genital cutting of three little girls, U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman said Congress “overstepped its bounds” in prohibiting the practice in 1996, adding that FGM is a “’local criminal activity’ which, in keeping with long-standing tradition and our federal system of government, is for the states to regulate, not Congress.”
As of this writing, 28 states already have anti-fgm laws on their books. As a result of the ruling in Michigan, additional states are now rushing to get laws on their books to criminalize any genital cutting in girls under 18 years of age.
Ironically, these state laws are also ripe for being challenged as unconstitutional, especially if the states that implement them have any type of equal protection clause(s) in their respective constitutions. Yes, the conduct they seek to regulate is properly under states’ purview. But by denying equal protection to children who are not girls (i.e., boys and intersex children), they will be violating their own constitutions.
The action by state legislators provides a golden opportunity for those of us who want to see all children protected. Appropriately, intersex advocates have seized on this legislative opportunity by introducing bills in Iowa, Connecticut, and California that would criminalize cutting the genitals of an intersex child.
But what about boys? Unlike fgm, which sparks pretty much universal revulsion among Americans, both intersex “normalization” surgeries and “routine” infant male circumcision are embedded in current medical practice — and thus wear a cloak of legitimacy even though these surgeries are medically useless and violate the rights of the children who undergo them.
Nonetheless, the conversation is shifting dramatically. And here’s what you can do: Continue reading INTERSEX & FGM LEGISLATION