2015, Poster Presentation

Ethical Considerations of the Medicalization of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting

MARGARET DUNNE + ELEANOR BIRCH

Margaret Dunne (NHS’17) and Eleanor Birch (NHS’17), both International Health majors, first encountered the issue of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) — the non-medical partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to female genital organs — in a class at Georgetown on Maternal and Child Health.

Most FGM/C is performed by “traditional circumcisers,” but nearly one-fifth is performed by healthcare professionals in a practice known as “medicalized” FGM/C. The poster focuses on the moral responsibility of physicians and others involved in the practice, suggesting that there are no easy or quick answers in this domain.

Though both authors began their exploration firmly opposed to the medicalization of the practice, their research ultimately led them to reverse course, and their poster advocates medicalization as a harm-reduction technique and morally-acceptable intermediate step to the ultimate eradication of the practice.

2015 FIRST PRIZE WINNER

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