Federal judge rules US law against female genital mutilation is unconstitutional, dismisses charges

The Founding Fathers likely never envisioned that the U.S. Constitution would not only give a woman the right to kill their unborn child, but that it would also permit two doctors to walk free after performing genital mutilation on young girls.

That’s according to how judges choose to interpret what has been called the greatest political document in the history of mankind.

In a surprising ruling, a federal judge in Detroit ruled a U.S. law against female genital mutilation is unconstitutional, dismissing the charges against Dr. Jumana Nagarwala, Dr. Fakhruddin Attar and six others, to include four mothers who took their daughters to a clinic to have the procedure performed, CBS News reported.

Nagarwala performed the surgery on dozens of girls and Attar allowed his Michigan clinic to be used. Attar’s wife, Farida, was also charged, along with an assistant.

U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman, a Reagan appointee, deferred to state rights in a 28-page opinion, ruling that “Congress overstepped its bounds by legislating to prohibit (female genital mutilation).”

“The Commerce Clause does not permit Congress to regulate a crime of this nature,” Friedman wrote.

Female genital mutilation, common among Muslims, is banned by law in at least 44 countries, including the United States, and the World Health Organization considers the procedure a human rights violation.

State law in Michigan bans the practice, making it the 26th state to make it illegal, but the law was passed a few months after Nagarwala’s April 2017 arrest, according to CBS News.

And while Nagarwala said she performed a religious custom on the young girls, the ruling didn’t consider a religious exemption argument.

The doctor still faces conspiracy to travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct and obstruction charges.

Shelby Quast, the Americas director of the women’s rights organization Equality Now, told the Detroit Free Press the decision was a setback for women and girls.

“It’s a giant step backward in the protection of women’s and girls’ rights,” Quast said. “Especially when there is a global movement to eliminate this practice.”

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Tom Tillison

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