4/3/18, Maine First Media Staff Report,
Despite having majority support, the path forward for a female genital mutilation ban in Maine appears to be heading for a likely dead end.
Two members of the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee have added amendments, essentially removing all the teeth and enforcement methods from the bill.
It is widely speculated in the halls of the Capitol; the move comes under pressure from the Democrat party over fears of being labeled “racist,” “islamophobic,” and “xenophobic.”
“I can’t explain the opposition here in Maine other than what I have heard, and that is people are being told they are racist if they support this,” said Republican Rep. Karen Gerrish of Lebanon. “I, personally, have not been told or called that. There is zero issue about race with this bill. This is about protecting little girls from being butchered, plain and simple.”
We will explain why this likely means the death of the ban this session, but first, some background is required.
Originally, the majority of the CJPS Committee voted for an FGM ban which included:
- Make performing FGM on a minor a Class A crime;
- Make it a Class A crime for a parent or guardian to consent to FGM of a minor in their care;
- Make transporting a minor out of state for the purpose of FGM a Class A crime;
- Extend the statute of limitations until the victim’s 25th birthday;
- Disallow “desirable as a social norm” as a defense of FGM;
- Make violation of the law grounds for permanent license revocation;
- Refine language to exclude, “FGM performed by state-licensed physician, midwife or person in an approved physician or midwife training program for (a) purposes necessary to the health of the minor or (b) on a minor in labor or when has just given birth for medical purposes connected with that labor/birth;”
- Provide funding for community outreach educating about the dangers of FGM.
Rep. Charlotte Warren (D-Hallowell), Rep. Rachel Talbot-Ross (D-Portland) and Rep. Lois Reckitt (D-South Portland) voted against the ban. Meanwhile, Rep. Thomas Longstaff (D-Waterville) and Rep. Martin Grohman (I-Biddeford) voted the bill “ought to pass,” but with an amendment excluding the portion of the proposal making parent/guardian consent of FGM of a minor a Class A crime.
However, at Monday’s committee meeting, Rep. Longstaff requested reconsideration of the bill.
Typically, when a member requests reconsideration, it is to join one of the different reports.
“I, along with some of my House Republican caucus knew something was underfoot,” Rep. Gerrish told Maine First Media. “For the first time ever, when asked to vote on reconsideration, I voted no — along with some others. But reconsideration was granted as the majority of the members voted to allow it.”
And something was underfoot indeed. During reconsideration, Rep. Longstaff further amended the minority “ought to pass as amended” report. Along with no penalties for parents or guardians consenting to the brutal child abuse ritual, the newly amended version of the bill also removes penalties for the person(s) transporting the young girl to the horrific destination. Rep. Grohman — who used to be enrolled as a Democrat — joined in this minority report.
Under the amended version of the bill, only the actual cutter would face criminal charges. However, the person who performs the mutilation often escapes discovery — meaning, no one would be held accountable for this barbaric form of child abuse against young girls.
The original bill sponsor and champion of fighting against child abuse, Republican Rep. Heather Sirocki of Scarborough says without penalties for accomplices, the bill won’t prevent FGM.
“If the cutter could be found and arrested, then all accomplices could be charged with a Class A crime,” Rep. Sirocki said. “But what if the cutter is unknown or if the cutting occurred out of state, or if the cutting occurred while on vacation in another country? Without an arrest, there is no accomplice liability — which means no one can be held accountable.”
FGM survivor, F.A., Cole is a leading expert in the fight for zero tolerance for FGM. She has pointed out in testimony that immigrant families will often pay for a cutter from their home village overseas to come in and perform the physically and emotionally scaring abuse.
And as Rep. Sirocki points out, responsibility for the barbaric practice falls on more than just the person who performs the mutilation.
“This crime does not occur without at least one person making arrangements; acquiring the services of a cutter, paying for the cutting, cleaning up the blood, or helping to hold the girl down,” Rep. Sirocki said.
Rep. Sirocki also points out Rep. Longstaff’s amended version of the bill contradicts Maine’s current child abuse laws. She explains that existing child abuse laws do include accomplices by outlawing “endangerment of a child.” However, the Longstaff amendments let the FGM equivalents off the hook.
Moving forward, in the remaining time this session, both the Senate and House are expected to pass versions of the FGM ban. So, how does that spell a likely dead end for the bill?
Under Maine parliamentary rules, House and Senate leadership can each bring any committee report to their respective floors for a full vote.
It is expected the Republican-controlled Senate will vote on — and pass — the majority report, including the penalties for accomplices of FGM.
However, the Democrat-controlled House is expected to vote on — and pass — the minority report, including the amendments removing all the teeth from the ban.
At that point, the bill would bounce between the bodies in an attempt to reconcile the bill. Given the recent developments of Rep. Longstaff reconsidering his own amended version of the bill, it is highly unlikely the two sides will be able to come to an agreement before the end of the session. Without the same bill passing in both bodies, the ban will die — for a second straight legislative session, no FGM ban will pass, leaving many young, mostly immigrant, girls vulnerable to this heinous abuse.
Many in the swamp of Augusta believe that was the intent all along.
“We know the minority report will be put forth in the House giving the impression that we are voting for FGM Ban bill — but the ban is nothing now, empty,” Rep. Gerrish said. “The Senate will likely move the majority report –the good bill — and the bill will die between the two bodies. This, in my opinion, was their intent. It continues to stun me in the House how 8, 9, 10, even 11 person majority reports out of the CJPS committee are ignored by the Democratic majority. It will be a sad day in Maine that once again, we fail these little girls.”
This is not the first time in the life-span of the FGM ban, claims of “racism” have been used against those who seek to end barbaric child abuse for young girls living in Maine.
After initially introducing the bill, Rep. Sirocki was targeted by the hate group, Southern Poverty Law Center with a smear campaign. Maine’s Fake News outlets were quick to follow SPLC’s lead.
And as Maine First Media has previously reported, at a controversial public hearing on the bill, multiple Somali immigrants, who suffered FGM themselves, spoke out against the ban, citing, of course, “racism.”
Critics of banning FGM in Maine have also used the tactic of arguing over small words to stall the bill.
The Female Genital Mutilation ban is not officially dead at this point, and will even seem to be headed in the right direction as versions of the ban pass in the House and Senate. However, the final destination for an effective ban, with teeth, is likely a dead end.
Perhaps the third try will be the charm next session. However, with open-border Leftists playing games with the ban this session, and voting the ban down outright the prior session, Mainers may be in for a long wait before seeing an end to FGM.