Female Genital Mutilation

Menstuff® has information on Female Genital Mutilation.

Initial Action
Response
Contacts and Resources

Initial Action


ARC's May 10 letter to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) hsa been electronically published at pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/eletters?lookup=by_date&days=30#50145 . The letter was written in response to the AAP's recent position statement on female genital cutting (FGC), which condones minimal forms of FGC. We will be sending an expanded version of the letter to all the members of the AAP committee that drafted the position statement. The AAP position statement is available at aappolicy.aappublications.org/cgi/content/abstract/pediatrics;125/5/1088 . Here is the text of the letter:

Dear AAP:

We have reviewed the AAP’s latest policy statement on female genital cutting (FGC) and we are shocked to see such an ethically and medically incoherent document issue from your venerable organization. What truly is paradoxical is for the nation’s leading organization of doctors treating children to weaken its opposition to a practice proven to cause substantial, irreparable, lifelong harm to children.

Moreover, your proposed, seemingly innocent “ritual nick” almost certainly violates the Federal Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Act, whose criminal provisions became effective in March 1997.

We trust that lightening your opposition to female genital cutting is not being done to help set up a parallel move toward diluting your 1999 statement on male circumcision (MGC). Flawed as the latter statement was, it did acknowledge the lack of medical benefit to the procedure on males. It is imperative that both statements be maintained or strengthened.

The AAP has no business brokering cultural procedures, even those that may support future revenue streams for some of its members. In this time of reduced resources, more than ever, it is imperative that medical organizations such as the AAP focus on what matters most—promoting the safety of our children, and working to eradicate—not condone or justify—harmful, non-beneficial, unethical practices such as FGC and MGC.

J. Steven Svoboda
Attorneys for the Rights of the Child

Contacts and Resources

Carden Johnston, MD, Pres
Am Academy of Pediatrics
141 Northwest Point Blvd.
Elk Grove Village, IL 60007-1098
847-434-4000
Fax 847-434-8000
kidsdocs@aap.org
www.aap.org

James A Stockman, MD Pres
Am Board of Pediatrics
111 Silver Cedar Ct
Chapel Hill, NC 27514
919-929-0461
Fax 919-929-9255
abpeds@abpeds.org
www.abp.org

Melanie Stanton, Exec Dir
Am Pediatric Surgical Assoc.
60 Revere Dr, Ste 500
Northbrook, IL 60062
847-480-9576
Fax 847-480-9282
eapsa@eapsa.org
www.eapsa.org v

M. Douglas Jones, MD Sec Trea
Assoc of Medical School Pediatric Dept Chairs
c/o Jean Bartholomew
111 Silver Cedar Ct
Chapel Hill, NC 27514-1651
919-942-1993
Fax 919-042-9255
jbartholomew@abpeds.org
No web site given

Judy Hartman, Pres
Pediatric Endocrinology Nursing Society
PO Box 2933
Gaithersburg, MD 20886-2933
president@pens.org
www.pens.org

Response - 2/25/10


As announced in today's print edition of the New York Times, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has reversed its May 1 policy statement that condoned certain forms of female genital cutting (FGC). The New York Times article can be found at www.nytimes.com/2010/05/27/health/27brfs-DOCTORSREVER_BRF.html?ref=todayspaper and the policy statement can be found at aappolicy.aappublications.org/cgi/content/abstract/pediatrics;125/5/1088 . To date, by my count, no fewer than 23 letters have been published by the AAP's flagship journal, Pediatrics, denouncing its May 1 statement. The letters can be found at pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/eletters/125/5/1088 . ARC's published letter can be found at pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/eletters?lookup=by_date&days=30#50145 . The AAP's about-face has occurred as an apparent response to the storm of outrage its position produced, including the 23 published letters to Pediatrics and also, for example, the following letter that ARC sent the day before yesterday to the members of the AAP committee that authored the statement:

Attorneys for the Rights of the Child
2961 Ashby Ave
Berkeley, CA 94705
Fax/phone 510-464-4530

American Academy of Pediatrics Committee Members

May 25, 2010

Dear Committee Members:

We have reviewed the AAP's latest policy statement on Ritual Genital Cutting of Female Minors and we are shocked to see such an ethically and medically incoherent document issue from your Committee and from your venerable organization. What truly is paradoxical is for the nation's leading organization of doctors treating children to weaken its opposition to a practice proven to cause substantial, irreparable, lifelong harm to children.

Moreover, your proposed, seemingly innocent "ritual nick" almost certainly violates the Federal Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Act, whose criminal provisions became effective in March 1997.

You acknowledge in your statement the contradictory impression that may be conveyed by policies that condone male circumcision (MGC) while attempting to restrict female genital cutting (FGC). The only course that is consistent with the US Constitution (including the Fourteenth Amendment right to equal protection), statutory and case law, medical ethics, and human rights is to prohibit all genital cutting that is not medically necessary and that is performed on individuals unable to consent to the procedure, including children. Parental assent is not an adequate substitute for individual consent with regards to male circumcision as it lacks a therapeutic benefit that exceeds the harm from complications and loss of functional tissue.

We trust that lightening your opposition to female genital cutting is not being done to help set up a parallel move toward diluting your 1999 statement on MGC. Flawed as the latter statement was, it did acknowledge the lack of medical benefit to the procedure on males. It is imperative that both statements be maintained or strengthened.

The AAP has no business brokering cultural procedures, even those that may support future revenue streams for some of its members. In this time of reduced resources, more than ever, it is imperative that medical organizations such as the AAP focus on what matters most-promoting the safety of our children, and working to eradicate-not condone or justify-harmful, non-beneficial, unethical practices such as FGC and MGC.

Sincerely,

J. Steven Svoboda
Executive Director
Attorneys for the Rights of the Child

Congratulations to everyone involved in inducing the AAP to reverse its position. However, the battle is not over. We need to highlight the AAP's hypocrisy in approving its now disavowed statement and the legal and ethical necessity to equally protect the genital integrity of all children, male as well as female.

Steven Svoboda
Attorneys for the Rights of the Child

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