The facts are not in dispute, but religious beliefs seem to be. A Michigan doctor, Jumana Nagarwala, has been charged with the crime of female genital mutilation. In some Middle Eastern and African countries, genital mutilation is considered a rite of passage, to make girls “clean” and “pure,” and ready for marriage. The doctor’s lawyer, Shannon Smith, has told the media her client “is being persecuted for her religious beliefs.” She has even taken to social media outlets like Facebook to ask people the following:
Excellent questions and a great way to educate people and herself to competently represent her client.
Henry Ford Hospital immediately fired Dr. Nagarwala based on the mere charges of performing the female circumcision. There has been no finding of the doctor being “guilty” of the charges.
Here in East Lansing, at Michigan State University, doctors, coaches, and trainers are being accused of failing on multiple occasions as “mandatory reporters” to report up the institutional chain of command and to an outside authority, like Child Protective Services. According to Michigan law, mandatory reporters are a specific class of people, including doctors, teachers, social workers, and others, who must report even a suggestion of sexual assault of a child under the age of 18. Yet no action has been taken by MSU.
Now lawmakers are rushing to introduce legislation to make the arguable religious based procedure a felony crime, punishable by up to 15 years in prison. The Federal government is considering making failure to report suspected child abuse a felony. This makes me reflect on one of the most universally observed commandments in Judaism, the Brit Milah (literally the Covenant of Circumcision) and commonly referred to as a “bris.” G-d commanded the Jewish people (Leviticus 12:2) “On the eighth day, the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised.” It is my belief that the act of circumcision of a young Jewish male, marking the completion of the body, is a human act. This teaches us that our spiritual, emotional, moral, and ethical perfection requires human efforts. G-d cannot do it for us.
You be the judge.
recently named in the 2009 edition of Best Lawyer's In America, David Mittleman has been representing seriously injured people since 1985. A partner with Church Wyble PC—a division of Grewal Law PLLC—Mr. Mittleman and his partners focus on medical malpractice, wrongful death, car accidents, slip and falls, nursing home injury, pharmacy/pharmacist negligence and disability claims.