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Group backs ritual ‘nick’ as female circumcision option

In a controversial change to a longstanding policy concerning the practice of female circumcision in some African and Asian cultures, the American Academy of Pediatrics is suggesting that American doctors be given permission to perform a ceremonial pinprick or “nick” on girls from these cultures if it would keep their families from sending them overseas for the full circumcision.

The academy’s committee on bioethics, in a policy statement last week, said some pediatricians had suggested that current federal law, which “makes criminal any nonmedical procedure performed on the genitals” of a girl in the United States, has had the unintended consequence of driving some families to take their daughters to other countries to undergo mutilation.

“It might be more effective if federal and state laws enabled pediatricians to reach out to families by offering a ritual nick as a possible compromise to avoid greater harm,” the group said.

“I am sure the academy had only good intentions, but what their recommendation has done is only create confusion about whether [female genital mutilation] is acceptable in any form and it is the wrong step forward on how best to protect young women and girls,” said Rep. Joseph Crowley, D-N.Y., who recently introduced a bill to toughen federal law by making it a crime to take a girl overseas to be circumcised. “FGM serves no medical purpose, and it is rightfully banned in the U.S.”

Georganne Chapin, executive director of an advocacy group called Intact America, said she was “astonished that a group of intelligent people did not see the utter slippery slope that we put physicians on” with the new policy statement. “How much blood will parents be satisfied with?”

FCC outlines plan to control broadband, but not rates or content

WASHINGTON — The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission outlined a plan on Thursday that would allow the agency to control the transmission component of high-speed Internet, but not rates or content.

In announcing the FCC decision, Julius Genachowski, the commission’s chairman, said the agency would begin a process to reclassify broadband transmission service as a telecommunications service, subjecting the Internet to some of the same oversight as telephone services.

But, he said, the commission would also exempt broadband service from many of the rules affecting telephone service, seeking mainly to guarantee that Internet service providers could not discriminate against certain applications, Internet sites or users.

The approach would specifically forbid the commission from regulating rates charged by telephone and cable companies.