Senate approves legislation to ban female genital mutilation in Michigan

Senator Margaret O'Brien

Senator Margaret O’Brien

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Senate on Wednesday approved legislation that would criminalize female genital mutilation (FGM) in Michigan.

Senate Bill 337, sponsored by Sen. Margaret O’Brien, R-Portage, would establish a felony crime punishable by up to 15 years imprisonment for the act. A companion bill, SB 338 sponsored by Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, would provide the necessary sentencing guidelines.

“We have taken swift action to end this oppressive procedure that permanently deforms girls,” Sen. O’Brien said. “Michigan must ensure that the rights of girls and women are protected against such heinous acts. This horrific abuse has no place in Michigan.”

SBs 368 and 369, sponsored by Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, R-Lawton, and Sen. Judy Emmons, R-Sheridan, would ban the transportation of girls for an FGM procedure. Under the bills, the crime would be a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, FGM refers to cutting and other procedures that mutilate the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. The department states federal law prohibits anyone in the country from knowingly circumcising, excising or infibulating the genitals of any child under 18 years of age.

The bills stem from a recent case in which Michigan-based doctors were arrested and charged for allegedly conspiring to perform FGM on minors, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

SBs 337-338 and 368-369 now head to the House of Representatives for consideration.