In our previous post, we began looking at the case of a Michigan physician who has been targeted in the first prosecution under a federal prohibition on female genital mutilation.
While the case is involves criminal charges, it is interesting to point out that the law does make an exception for surgical operations which are necessary to the health of the patient or for medical purposes connected with childbirth and which are performed by a person licensed in the place of its performance as a medical practitioner, or a by a midwife.
It isn’t exactly clear what practical application this exception could have, though there certainly are instances in childbirth where surgical cutting of the female genitalia is performed for medical purposes, such as the case with episiotomies. This, perhaps, would fall within the above-mentioned exception.
An episiotomy is a procedure in which an incision is made in a woman’s perineum during childbirth to allow for easier delivery. The procedure used to be routine, and though it no longer is, there are some cases in which it is still used. These might include situations where there would be extensive tearing of the vaginal tissue, where the child is abnormally positioned or very large, or whether a quick delivery is necessary. There are two primary types of incisions that can be made, one of which is widely seen as overly risky. The other presents a more precarious set of risks and benefits.
Though the performance of episiotomies has drastically declined in recent years, there is still a surprising amount of disagreement as to when it is appropriate to perform an episiotomy. These differences are reflected in different clinical practices that have real affects on women. When harm occurs to a woman as a result of an unwarranted episiotomy or other procedure affecting the female genitalia, or because of the faulty performance of the procedure, it is important to consult with an experienced attorney to determine the options for recovery.