Defense Date


Graduation Date

Fall 1-1-2015


Worldwide Access

Submission Type


Degree Name



Health Care Ethics


McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts

Committee Chair

Henk ten Have

Committee Member

Gerald Magill

Committee Member

Arron Mackler


Care, Cultural Diversity, Cutting, Female, Genital, Vulnerability


The United States is rapidly becoming a location for refugee women who are migrating from countries that embrace different and distinctive practices. One such practice is Female Genital Cutting/ mutilation (FGC/m). FGC is a medical procedure that alters the natural structure and functioning of the female body. It is also a cultural tradition and custom. Until recently, worldwide studies estimated that approximately 80 to 140 million women have undergone FGC and that 228, 000 of those women live in the U.S. However, the estimate of women and girls in the U.S. living with or at risk from FGC has grown from an estimated 228,000 to 513,000.

Globally, FGC has raised justifiable concerns, particularly when the procedure is performed without consent. As female refugees migrate from FGC/m communities to a non-FGC/m reality, women not only bring their customs, beliefs, and values – they bring their health care needs. FGC is associated with alleged health consequences. A major challenge, then, for health care in the U.S. is how to provide care for this group of women whose native ethos is countercultural to the practices in the United States.

When exploring FGC through a medical lens, FGC is considered an immoral practice that will result in harm and the need for healthcare. Conversely, however, when FGC is observed through the lens of respect for cultural diversity, it is not merely a negative construct, rather, it is a traditional cultural practice embraced by women who choose. The right for individuals to participate in their culture is a human right.

Since FGC is a surgical intervention, care is needed for women who choose. FGC is relatively novel and unfamiliar in the United States. In that way, to provide care is realized through the Georgetown and the Global bioethics frameworks from which FGC is ethically examined. An investigation through the lens of FGC garners what is needed to construct a specific model of care. Therefore, the title of this dissertation was changed from "Female Genital Cutting: What Should Care Be For Refugee Women Experiencing Female Genital Cutting, " to "A New Model for the Ethical Analysis of Care for Women Who Experience Female Genital Cutting."