'Nick' to save girls from gory ritual?
In a controversial change to a longstanding policy concerning the practice of female circumcision in some African and Asian cultures, the American Academy of suggesting that American doctors be given permission to perform a ceremonial pinprick or "nick" on girls from these cultures if it would keep their families from sending them overseas for the full circumcision.
The academy's committee on bioethics, in a policy statement last week, said some had suggested that current federal law, which "makes criminal any nonmedical procedure performed on the genitals" of a girl in the United States, has had the unintended consequence of driving some families to take their daughters to other countries to undergo mutilation. "It might be more effective if federal and state laws enabled pediatricians to reach out to families by offering a ritual nick as a possible compromise to avoid greater harm," the group said.
But some opponents of female genital mutilation, or FGM, denounced the statement. "I am sure the academy had only good intentions, but what their recommendation has done is only create confusion about whether FGM is acceptable in any form, and it is the wrong step forward on how best to protect young women and girls," said Representative Joseph Crowley, Democrat of New York, who recently introduced a bill to toughen federal law by making it a crime to take a girl overseas to be . "FGM serves no medical purpose, and it is rightfully banned in the US."
Georganne Chapin, executive director of an advocacy group called Intact America, said she was "astonished that a group of intelligent people did not see the slippery slope that we put on" with the new policy statement. "How much blood will parents be satisfied with?" She added: "There are countries that allow wife beating, slavery and child abuse, but we don't allow people to practice those customs in this country. We don't let people have slavery a little bit because they're going to do it anyway, or beat their wives a little bit because they're going to do it anyway."