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US judge drops FGM charges against two doctors, saying law is unconstitutional

BMJ 2018; 363 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.k5002 (Published 26 November 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;363:k5002
  1. Owen Dyer

Criminal charges against two Detroit doctors, two clinic workers, and four mothers accused of conspiring to arrange the genital mutilation of their daughters have been thrown out by a US federal judge, who said that the US law against female genital mutilation was unconstitutional.

Lead defendant Jumana Nagarwala, a emergency department physician from Detroit, was accused of cutting the genitalia of nine girls in a case that US federal prosecutors said “will hopefully deal a critical blow towards stamping out this inhumane practice.”1

But the US district judge Bernard Friedman ruled that Congress had “overstepped its bounds by legislating to prohibit FGM.”

The practice was “a ‘local criminal activity’ which, in keeping with longstanding tradition and our federal system of government, is for the states to regulate, not Congress,” he wrote in his decision,2 which granted the defence’s motion …

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