Maine Senate to vote on female genital mutilation bill

A bill that would make female genital mutilation a crime in Maine appears to be dead for this legislative session. (WGME)

AUGUSTA (WGME) – A bill that would specifically make female genital mutilation a crime in Maine is heading to a likely vote in the Senate Friday, even as House leaders say they don't plan to hold a vote no matter what the Senate does.

[Related: She was 7 when she was ritually cut. Now she wants to stop the practice.]

Democrats say the procedure, which is condemned by the World Health Organization, is already a crime covered by Maine's assault statute, and is also a federal crime.

[Related: Michigan House Passes Female Genital Mutilation Legislation]

They also claim the bill overstates the problem and specifically targets Maine's immigrant population, but the bill's Republican sponsor, Rep. Heather Sirocki, says her bill would send a strong message against the practice to protect children.

[Related: Female genital mutilation (FGM)]

"There are some people that say that this is a hate bill and that I am motivated by hate to bring this bill forward,” Rep. Sirocki said. “And I would say they're absolutely right. I hate child abuse."

[Related: 26 states still do not have laws criminalizing Female Genital Mutilation]

The bill makes it a Class B crime to perform female genital mutilation on a female under 18 years of age for non-medical purposes. The bill also makes it a Class B crime for a parent, guardian or person who has immediate custody of a girl under 18 years of age to consent to or permit female genital mutilation of that female person for non-medical purposes or for a person to remove the female person from the state for such a procedure.

[Related: Data on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in the United States]

Under the provisions of the bill it is not a defense that the female, or the parent, guardian or person who has immediate custody of the female person, consented to the procedure but it is a defense that the procedure was done for medical purposes.

[Related: ER doctor accused of performing female genital mutilation on underage patients]

You can read the bill's full text HERE.

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