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Child Protection Services
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ASAPT   Chancellor of Higher Ed.   NDBME

This Protector page is dedicated to correspondence with those who have legal or moral obligation to protect children. It asks them why they have not acted to protect children from unnecessary and harmful surgeries while urging them to do so now.

October 15, 1998, email from Gladys Cairns to Jody McLaughlin.
October 19, 1998 letter to Gladys Cairns, Director, Child Protection Services

Also see the Alliance
First Letter to ASAPT, 8/23/98.
ASAPT Response to 8/23/98 Letter.
Second Letter to ASAPT, 9/14/98.

October 15, 1998
Email from Gladys Cairns to Jody McLaughlin:

Jody, as the Chair of ASAPT, I can tell you that ASAPT will not be the carriers of legislation or requesters (we have no legal authority to do so) of an AG's opinion on circumcision. Now, that does not mean that I favor this cultural related procedure but it does mean our mission is much different from what you believe our mission should be. We appreciate receiving information on the subject. But, please know that I am already convinced that it is not medically necessary, that it is culturally or religiously driven.

And we have given our members the information in the brochure developed by your group. And just so you know where we are, we do not expect to cover the issue of circumcision as an agenda item for our task force in the foreseeable future.
Gladys [Cairns, Director]


October 19, 1998

Email to:
Gladys Cairns, Director,
Child Protection Services
Bismarck, North Dakota

Dear Gladys,

Thank you for your letter in response to the difficulty organizations have in addressing the Male Genital Human Rights issues.

I am glad you mentioned legislation. As Director of Child Protection Services (not as the Chair of the Alliance for Sexual Abuse and Prevention and Treatment Task Force) would you support (not "carry") legislation that would prohibit non-indicated, genital procedures (circumcision or the separation of synecial connections of the labia minora or foreskin) on children? If such a bill is proposed, would you consider providing testimony during the hearings? You have stated that although non-therapeutic circumcision does not fit the definition of child sexual abuse, if it is abuse, it is physical abuse, which is within the responsibility of Child Protection Services.

I had not asked you about requesting an opinion from the Attorney General's office, but I think it is an excellent idea. Since "The Attorney General is The Attorney for State Government And State Agencies" and State Law prohibits the AG office from providing legal information to private citizens, ND Human Services or Child Protection Services could (and I hope will) request an opinion from the Attorney General to see if the State Law protecting female minors should be interpreted to include males.

Although the Declaration of Independence said "All men (we now assume this means women also ) are created equal" prior to 1920 women could not vote because women were obviously different from men, at least until the 19th amendment to the Constitution was passed. Therefore, because of changes in our perceptions, understandings and sensibilities, interpretations of the law are sometimes necessary.

I'm sure you can remember a time when it was no body's business what parents did to their children. Children were considered property of their parents, and all were loath to interfere. The Association for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals existed long before there were any such organizations advocating for children.

 It wasn't that long ago that rape was considered a crime of passion, not a crime of violence. Fathers (and perhaps even mothers) held the belief that it was their responsibility to "teach their children about sex." This particular kind of 'teaching' is now called incest and is prohibited, both culturally and legally.

Now that women can vote, and rape and incest are considered crimes, we have another issue we need to address; the Genital Integrity of our children, particularly when it is compromised by well meaning, but ill informed parents or caregivers, some of whom, unfortunately, may still consider children parental property.

It is my understanding that it is unconstitutional to deny any individual their personal safety, including children; to deny equal protection regardless of age, gender or race; or discrimination based on sex. According to:

The 5th Amendment--personal security--"The right of the people to be secure in their persons...against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated...but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

The 14th Amendment --Provides for equal protection regardless of age, gender or race-- "No State shall make or enforce any law which...deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

The 19th Amendment --Prohibits sex discrimination-- The right of citizens of the United States (to vote) shall not be denied or any State on account of sex.

Just to refresh your memory, you perhaps have not read this since you testified on behalf of the following bill which passed into law--

AN ACT to prohibit female genital mutilation; and to provide a penalty.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY OF NORTH DAKOTA: Section 1. Surgical alternation of the genitals of females minors - Penalty - Exception.

1. Except as provided in subsection 2, any person who knowingly separates or surgically alters normal, healthy functioning genital tissue of a female minor is guilty of a class C felony.

2. A surgical operation is not a violation of this section if a licensed medical practitioner performs the operation to correct an anatomical abnormality or to remove diseased tissue that is an immediate threat to the health of the minor. In applying this subsection, any belief that the operation is required as a matter of custom, ritual, or standard of practice may not be taken into consideration.

Although this law is by definition, sexist, it may sound fair to some, because, after all, boys are different from girls. But boys grow up into men and girls into women, and the law requires they be treated equally. We know if children are not safe and well cared for when they are small, this may have a sometimes negative effect on their entire lives. Women as well as men have suffered terribly because of the ways in which they were treated. Sometimes this suffering is passed on to the next generation because "It was all I knew." It is with this in mind I ask you, as the Director, of Child Protection Services, to

1. Request the Attorney General's opinion on this, And 2. Schedule a meeting of all interested parties: where the fears and expectations, causes and concerns, problems and pit falls, education and practice can be addressed by all parties involved with this issue, in an environment of concern for the safety and well being of children.

I would be proud to have North Dakota lead the nation on this critical issue as it did with addressing FGM. Because the time when this will end is coming. I would be pleased if our state could set the new standard. And as you know, because of the small and intimate nature of our state, things can happen here that simply cannot take place in places like California or New York.

If you have any other ideas or information on the most effective way to address this issue at the local or state level, I would be pleased if you would share them with me.

With Kindest Regards,

Jody McLaughlin
PO Box 209
Minot, ND 58702-0209
701) 852-2822



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