Maine's legislature failed to protect little girls from a horrible mutilation practice, so the bill's sponsor now is focusing on the governor's office in hopes of reviving it.
State Representative Heather Sirocki tried to get a bill passed to criminalize female genital mutilation practiced by part of the state's population. Although it was tossed between both houses, the bill failed to pass by the end of the session.
Sirocki tells OneNewsNow there's proof the cruel practice, usually religiously motivated, is occurring in the U.S.: the Medicaid billing system has been reimbursing providers to treat complications with female genital mutilation in Maine.
"Providers are very hesitant to step forward and report that they are seeing this," the lawmaker adds. "I have many anecdotal stories. We do have the billing codes that have been accessed, and providers have been reimbursed for treating, specifically, female genital mutilation."
Large pockets of Somali immigrants reside in the state, and that group has a 98-percent rate of all females mutilated in that fashion.
While Sirocki's bill went down to defeat, the state legislature did pass a bill forbidding anyone under the age of 21 from buying tobacco as well as anyone under the age of 18 from going to a tanning booth.
"They certainly put a lot of energy and effort into that particular bill," Sirocki says, "but very few people seemed to be concerned about child abuse and sexual assault that's happening right under our noses and putting girls at tremendous risk for health issues as well as psychological issues."
Sirocki has reached the end of her term, so she is working with the governor's office in the hope that he will submit the legislation to be revisited in January.