Physicians are bound by a wide variety of rules which are legal, ethical, and professional in nature. The legal duties to which physicians are bound come from various sources, including statutes, case law, and the medical community itself. When a physician exercises bad or mistaken judgment, he or she can face various consequences, including malpractice liability, professional discipline, and sometimes even criminal prosecution.
A Northville physician is currently facing criminal prosecution in connection with a procedure commonly known as female genital mutilation. It is the first instance in which federal authorities are prosecuting such a case. The physician targeted in the case reportedly performed the procedure upon two 7-year-old daughters of a Livonia couple. The father himself is apparently a physician.
Female genital mutilation is prohibited under federal law and under the laws of some states, though not every state clearly prohibits the practice. Michigan is among the states that have not prohibited the practice, which is perhaps why the girls in this case were transported there to have the procedure performed. Some states that do not have clear female genital mutilation prohibitions do prosecute the practice under more general laws, though, such as child abuse or battery.
Federal law not only prohibits the practice of female genital mutilation domestically, but also taking children overseas to have the procedure performed. Some say the law needs to be amended to clearly allow for the prosecution of parents who transport their children to another state to have the procedure performed.
In this case and in many other cases of female genital mutilation, of course, the purpose of the procedure was in no way medical. In our next post, we’ll look briefly at the issue of circumcision from a strictly medical perspective.
Detroit Free Press, “Genital mutilation victims break their silence: ‘This is demonic,’” Tresa Baldas, April 22, 2017.
The Daily Beast, “And Now, Female Genital Mutilation Comes to America,” Qanta Ahmed, April 19, 2017.