AUGUSTA, Maine (WABI) - Female genital mutilation is a crime in 26 U.S. states.
Maine might become the next.
State lawmakers want to create harsher penalties for anyone performing the procedure. Governor LePage is backing the proposal.
The bill's sponsor says the fear of being called racist is preventing some professionals from reporting patients with signs of genital mutilation.
Opponents say the procedure isn't happening in Maine and that this bill further stigmatizes the Muslim population.
"I think everyone agrees that female genital mutilation is something that is a human rights violation, that it is a form of child abuse, and that we don't want one little girl ever to endure that procedure," said Rep. Heather Sirocki, (R) the bill's sponsor.
"We have deep concerns about the impacts of this bill on further stigmatizing a vulnerable population, and for that reason we oppose both," said Taryn Hallweaver, Maine People's Alliance.
Two similar bills have been presented, one addressing outreach services to immigrants.
Lawmakers anticipate the bills might be combined.
The measure would make the procedure a Class A crime and could result in 30 years in prison.