Arizona Legislature

Arizona State Senators assemble, Thursday, May 16, 2013, at the Capitol in Phoenix.

Associated Press

A Senate panel agreed Monday to label female circumcision as “genitalia mutilation,” but not before several lawmakers questioned both the need and scope for the legislation.

SB 1342 would make it a felony not only to perform the procedure but also to transport a girl out of Arizona to get around state law. Sen. Judy Burges, R-Sun City West, said lawmakers need to step in “to protect the lives, health and emotional welfare of women in Arizona who may be forced into this horrific practice.”

Burges said the “culturally forced” procedure is often done with unclean tools and without anesthetic, but she said her opposition would be no different even if that were not the case.

Sen. David Bradley, D-Tucson, said he did not question that the practice should be illegal, but he said it may already be covered by existing laws, such as those which make it a crime to assault a minor.

Bradley also said if lawmakers are going to determine that these procedures constitute mutilation, then perhaps the proposal should be extended to procedures done on boys.

Sen. Andrea Dalessandro, D-Tucson, worried whether the language could be considered too broad, even to the point of outlawing piercing of a minor. But she, like Bradley, supported the bill “because we want all of our women and young girls to be safe.”

Sen. Steve Gallardo, D-Phoenix, said his concerns about the wording compelled him to vote against the measure.

The legislation needs action by the full Senate before going to the House.

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