AUGUSTA – Governor Paul LePage has announced he will introduce a new bill to stop the practice of female genital mutilation (known as FGM) in the current session of the Maine Legislature.
LePage made the announcement in his weekly address, pointing out that hundreds of young women across Maine are at risk of the practice according to data that was provided in the previous attempt to pass a bill that provides Maine prosecutors the tools they need to prosecute the practice.
As Maine Examiner previously has reported, the attempt by lawmakers in the previous Legislative session failed along a largely party line vote in the
FGM Awareness Poster designed by Max Allen, Cargo Collective. http://cargocollective.com/maxallen/FGM-awareness-poster-personal-development
Maine House of Representatives following passage in the Senate. That bill was sponsored by State Rep. Heather Sirocki of Scarborough and co-sponsored by more than 60 Representatives and Senators of both parties before opposition among Democrats hardened against it.
Lawmakers received testimony that prosecutors face difficulty actually prosecuting FGM based on existing state law, but the ACLU submitted testimony against the bill, citing a desire not to expand the criminal code, and suggesting the practice does not occur in Maine, directly contradicting state health data that it does.
In Governor LePage’s weekly address, he lays out some of the issues he seeks to fix with the bill, including the ability to prosecute parents or guardians who subject a girl to the procedure, saying they need to be prosecuted for taking a girl to a different state for the procedure as well.
LePage said his bill also seeks to prosecute the person who actually performs the procedure.
In the address, Governor Lepage also suggests that Democrats are planning their own bill on the matter, which would focus on an “education program”, but he says that is not a solution and that Maine already received a grant for an education program and it did not work.
To see the key roll call votes on the last effort in the Maine House to create a law to protect young girls from FGM, click here.