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September 4, 2002

Female Genital Mutilation

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JAMA. 2002;288(9):1130. doi:10.1001/jama.288.9.1130-JMS0904-2-1

The problem of female genital mutilation (FGM) inspired nearly 100 medical students from 3 continents to submit their work for the 2002 John Conley Ethics Essay Contest for Medical Students. Essayists discussed ethical issues that would arise if an 18-year-old woman requested that a surgeon in the United States perform FGM on her before she returned home to Africa, where FGM is most commonly practiced. Also known as "female genital cutting" and "female circumcision," FGM includes 4 types according to a classification scheme delineated by the World Health Organization in 1995. The classification is based on increasingly extensive excisions of the genitalia from types I to type III, with types I and II comprising the majority of procedures. Variations of FGM that do not meet the criteria for the first 3 types are classified as type IV.