Intact America Issues Three Children’s Genital Protection Statements Regarding State Legislative Bills

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Female genital mutilation (FGM) and intersex prohibition bills introduced in rapid succession by California, Connecticut, and Iowa are unconstitutional, says Intact America. Newly proposed legislation fails to protect boys.

Intact America, a national children’s rights organization, today issued three statements asking California, Connecticut, and Iowa legislators to abide by their respective state constitutions and not fail to protect boys from harmful genital surgeries.

Iowa and Connecticut have introduced bills prohibiting FGM and intersex surgery. California has introduced a bill prohibiting intersex surgery (it already passed an anti-FGM law in 1996). All three states have constitutional equal protection clauses. (See bill details below)

“On the surface, all of these bills purport to be anti-discrimination. However, by virtue of their very narrow scope, they are themselves discriminatory,” said Georganne Chapin, executive director of Intact America. “In their politically-correct rush to protect girls and intersex minors from invasive and unnecessary surgeries, legislators have run roughshod over the thousands of American boys whose penises are being mutilated every day.”

“Legislators must realize that when it comes to gender equality it is an all-or-none proposition,” says Chapin. “Either they must rescind these unconstitutional bills, or introduce a single bill using gender-neutral language. Intact America encourages them to do the latter.”

These bills follow in the wake of the Federal FGM conspiracy case against a Detroit female physician Dr. Jumana Nagarwala, who allegedly circumcised girls over the past few years by cutting or removing part of their external genitalia (Nagarwala denied removing any tissue). However, Federal District Court Judge Friedman ruled that Congress did not have the authority to pass its 1996 Federal Prohibition Against Female Genital Mutilation Act, and that the law is therefore unconstitutional. The law was the basis for the original indictments.

“This ruling has left the federal law toothless,” says Chapin. “Now, in order to protect girls, states are rushing to fill the gap. But there’s a problem. Any state that has an equal protection clause in its constitution, and that then passes a law that protects only girls, or (as in California, Iowa and Connecticut) only girls and intersex children, is violating its own constitution. By failing to protect boys, legislators from these states are – purposely or not – engaged in legislative sexism and their new laws are ripe for constitutional challenges.

Intersex is an umbrella term for a host of conditions where children are born with atypical genitalia. Female genital mutilation is a collective term for a variety of surgeries varying in severity on girls’ anatomy; some are far less severe than removal of a boy’s foreskin (aka circumcision).

Intact America is the largest national advocacy group working to end involuntary circumcision in America, and to ensure a healthy sexual future for all people. Intact America fulfills its mission by challenging social and sexual norms and by advocating for the health and wellbeing of all children and the adults they will become.

Iowa
Two bills have been introduced into the current Iowa legislative session to protect girls and intersex minors from female genital mutilation (FGM) and intersex genital surgery. Both describe unnecessary surgeries performed without valid medical need or the patient’s consent.
House File 299, introduced February 6, would prohibit circumcision and genital mutilation of female minors for cultural reasons, but exempt valid medical necessity.

House File 576, introduced March 6, would prohibit genital norming surgery upon any intersex minor without carefully obtained consent form the child.

Article 1, Section 6 of the Iowa Constitution states, in part: “The general assembly shall not grant to any citizen, or class of citizens, privileges or immunities, which, upon the same terms shall not equally belong to all citizens.” (read more)

Connecticut
Two bills have been introduced in the current Connecticut legislative session to protect girls and intersex minors from female genital mutilation (FGM) and intersex genital surgery. Both describe unnecessary surgeries performed without valid medical need or the patient’s consent.
Senate Bill 388, introduced January 23, would prohibit genital norming surgery upon any intersex minor without carefully obtained consent from the child.

Senate Bill 505, introduced January 24, would prohibit circumcision and genital mutilation of female minors for cultural reasons, but exempt valid medical necessity.

Article 1, Section 20 of the Connecticut Constitution states: “No person shall be denied the equal protection of the law nor be subjected to segregation or discrimination in the exercise or enjoyment of his civil or political rights because of religion, race, color, ancestry or national origin.” (read more)

California
A bill has been introduced into the current California legislative session to protect intersex minors from genital surgery.

Senate Bill 201, introduced January 1, would prohibit genital norming surgery upon any intersex minor without carefully obtained consent from the child.

Article 1, Section 7(b) of the California Constitution states: “A citizen or class of citizens may not be granted privileges or immunities not granted on the same terms to all citizens. Privileges or immunities granted by the Legislature may be altered or revoked.” (read more)

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Georganne Chapin
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