States are to regulate FGM, whereas abortion is federal.
In a major blow to the government, a federal judge in Detroit has declared America’s female genital mutilation law unconstitutional, thereby dismissing the key charges against two Michigan doctors and six others accused of subjecting at least nine minor girls to the cutting procedure in the nation’s first FGM case.
The historic case involves minor girls from Michigan, Illinois and Minnesota, including some who cried, screamed and bled during the procedure and one who was given Valium ground in liquid Tylenol to keep her calm, court records show.
The judge’s ruling also removed three mothers from the case, including two Minnesota women whom prosecutors said tricked their 7 -year-old daughters into thinking they were coming to Metro Detroit for a girls’ weekend, but instead had their genitals cut at a Livonia clinic as part of a religious procedure.
U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman concluded that “as despicable as this practice may be,” Congress did not have the authority to pass the 22-year-old federal law that criminalizes female genital mutilation, and that it’s a matter for the state’s to regulate. FGM is banned worldwide and has been outlawed in more than 30- countries, though the U.S. statute had never been tested before this case.
“As laudable as the prohibition of a particular type of abuse of girls may be … federalism concerns deprive Congress of the power to enact this statute,” Friedman wrote in his 28-page opinion, noting: “Congress overstepped its bounds by legislating to prohibit FGM … FGM is a ‘local criminal activity’ which, in keeping with longstanding tradition and our federal system of government, is for the states to regulate, not Congress.”