ST. PAUL, MN – On Thursday, January 24, Rep. Mary Franson (R-Alexandria) renewed her efforts to protect girls from female genital mutilation (FGM) as she again introduced legislation that would hold liable Minnesota parents who force their daughters to undergo the practice.
While Minnesota law makes it illegal for a doctor to perform FGM, there are no penalties for parents who subject their children to the procedure. Franson’s bill would make a parent that allows this guilty of a felony.
“The threat of female genital mutilation remains a very serious issue facing our state,” said Franson. “We need to send a clear message to parents that there are consequences for this practice. I will always stand up for the safety of little girls, and will keep working to put an end to this abusive practice and punish parents who subject their daughters to these often life-threatening horrors. I am as committed as ever to getting my bill signed into law this year and am hopeful for the support of my colleagues in the legislature.”
Franson has been a strong and tireless advocate against female genital mutilation and authored similar legislation last session. The bill received strong bipartisan support, as the House passed it on a near-unanimous 124-4 vote in 2017. In the Senate, however, the legislation never received a committee hearing or came before the entire body for a vote. Franson says she intends to promptly request a hearing with the Chair of the House Judiciary Finance and Civil Law Division.
In late November, a federal judge in Detroit declared the United States’ federal female genital mutilation (FGM) law unconstitutional. The judge’s opinion contends that Congress did not have the constitutional authority to pass the federal law that criminalizes FGM in 1996, and that FGM is to be regulated at the state level. The ruling dismisses charges against two Michigan doctors and six others individuals accused of subjecting at least nine girls to the procedure.
Following the November decision, Franson said the ruling underscores the dire need to pass her FGM legislation in the 2019 session.