The House passed a bill, as amended, 124-4 Monday that would make it a felony for parents to allow their daughters to undergo female genital mutilation.
“Little girls have the right and the opportunity … to be free from oppression. And that … includes sexual oppression, which is what Female Genital Mutilation is,” said bill sponsor Rep. Mary Franson (R-Alexandria). “This is gender violence.”
HF2621 would also require the Department of Health to educate communities that traditionally practice female genital mutilation and inform them about the potential health risks and emotional trauma, as well as the associated criminal penalties and potential to lose child custody.
The bill now moves to the Senate, where Sen. Karin Housley (R-St. Marys Point) is the sponsor.
It is already illegal for doctors to perform the procedure, and parents who allow or arrange for the procedure to happen should be held accountable as well, Franson said.
An amendment, offered by Rep. Debra Hillstrom (DFL-Brooklyn Center), would clarify that the parents of immigrant girls who underwent the procedure in another country, before immigrating to the United States, would not fall under the purview of the bill.
Rep. Rena Moran (DFL-St. Paul), who voted against the bill, said that while she supports the goal of ending FGM, she believes that it should be done through well-funded education and outreach, not punitive measures that could break up families.
She said that when listening to testimony in the House Health and Human Services Reform Committee, testifiers who suffered from the procedure said that their parents were doing what they believed to be normal, and were not acting maliciously.
Allen stressed that when children were at risk of being removed from their homes, it may discourage people from reporting the crime.
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