It’s a topic many people are uncomfortable with and a topic many people may not realize has an impact right here in South Carolina; female genital mutilation. 

Reports from the World Health Organization and the CDC show that numbers are increasing and the international health crisis can be spotted right here in the United States. 

More than a dozen states have passed legislation that ban female genital mutilation and now a South Carolina lawmaker wants to add the state to the list. 

Representative Heather Ammons Crawford from Horry County filed the bill. 

While prevalent in other countries data from the CDC shows that more than 500,000 women in the United States have undergone female genital mutiliation or FGM. 

“It’s a barbaric and cruel practice that is prevalent in certain countries around the world. There was a federal prohibition but then that was struck down by a federal judge who said that it was unconstitutional due to interstate commerce and needed to be handled on a state to state case.”

That reversal at the federal level leaves the power to ban FGM in the state’s hands. A bill filed in the house would ban FGM for women under the age of 18 and introduce criminal penalties if the procedure is done.

So far the bill has several sponsors, including Representative Josiah Magnuson from Spartanburg. 

Magnuson explained why this legislation needs to be handled at the state level.  

“Our state government exists to protect the most innocent and most vulnerable and this bill is directed to protect young women from harm to their bodies.”

WHO reports the most common reasons for FGM are religious and cultural backgrounds. But the bill South Carolina lawmakers are now discussing doesn’t allow for any exceptions. 

“Regardless of somebody’s cultural background they’re not harming anyone certainly not a child that’s innocent and doesn’t really have any way to object,” Representative Magnuson added.

Neighboring-state Georgia has already passed legislation that bans FGM and currently in North Carolina a bill is being discussed by lawmakers. 

This BILL if passed would not apply to women 18 and older.

In addition to criminal penalties any physician who performs the surgery would also have their professional licenses and certifications revoked.