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Who Knew They Had a Policy? Female Genital Cutting!

by | June 6th, 2010

Who Knew They Had a Policy? Female Genital Cutting!

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is again changing its policy on ritual female genital cutting (FGC) after advocacy groups protested the academy’s recently revised policy statement regarding the excision of girls’ external genitalia, which some African, Middle Eastern, and Asian cultures perform as a rite of passage.

The AAP board of directors voted on May 22 to retire the new policy, published in the May issue of the journal Pediatrics, and to immediately revise it because of the confusion it generated, AAP President Judith Palfrey, MD, told Medscape Pediatrics.

That policy statement expressed concern that girls from cultures that practice FGC who now live in the United States may be sent by their parents back to their native countries for a genital-altering procedure that can be harmful and even life-threatening. In the statement, which revised the academy’s 1998 policy, the AAP’s Committee on Bioethics wrote, “It might be more effective if federal and state laws enabled pediatricians to reach out to families by offering a ritual [clitoral] nick as a possible compromise to avoid greater harm.”

In an official statement the AAP the board writes: “The AAP does not endorse the practice of offering a ‘clitoral nick.’ This minimal pinprick is forbidden under federal law and the AAP does not recommend it to its members.”

“The ethics committee will do a rewrite, which will reassert the AAP opposition to all forms of female genital cutting,” stated Dr. Palfrey, a pediatrician at Children’s Hospital Boston.

Controversy about the AAP policy arose after a May 6 New York Times article, in which a member of the academy’s bioethics committee, Lainie Friedman Ross, MD, was quoted as saying a nick of the clitoris is “a last resort” but is as “benign” as ear piercing. “A just-say-no policy may end up alienating these families, who are going to then find an alternative that will do more harm than good,” she told the New York Times.

The new policy revision will appear in the July print issue of Pediatrics.

To learn more, Visit and read The Reality of Female Genital Cutting

Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Category: News & Education, Our Blog, Sexual Dysfunction |


Dr. J. Kyle Mathews is an expert in the field of Urogynecology, minimally invasive laparoscopic and robotic surgery, and reconstructive gynecologic surgery. Dr. Mathews is board certified and a Fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology as well as the American College of Surgeons. With over two decades of experience, Dr. Mathews is one of the most experienced surgeons in north Texas.

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