"Defence lawyers will argue female genital mutilation is a religious right in the first ever federal case on the practice in the US.
Two Detroit doctors and one of their wives have been charged with subjecting two seven-year-old girls to genital cutting.
The defendants are part of a religious and cultural community called Dawoodi Bohra, an Islamic sect based in India, which is accused of practicing FGM.
It is the first federal case of its kind in the US, where FGM was banned in 1996.
Dr Jumana Nargarwala, 44, is alleged to have carried out the practice on young children for 12 years.
Dr Fakhruddin Attar, 53, is accused of letting Nargarwala use his clinic to carry out the procedure, while his wife Farida Attar, 50, is accused of holding the hands of at least two victims during the cutting procedures to comfort them.
They were charged with conspiracy, female genital mutilation and aiding and abetting.
Their defence lawyers plan to put forward a religious freedom argument.
They maintain the doctors did not actually cut the girls, just scraped their genitalia, and argue the defendants are being persecuted by practicing their religion.
If the defence can show the procedure was just a nick and caused no harm, the defendants could be acquitted on religious grounds, legal experts told the Detriot Free Press.
According to court documents, the girls said they were told they were going to Michigan, for “a special girls' trip”. One of the girls said that after the procedure “she could barely walk, and that she felt pain all the way down to her ankle”. The girls said their parents told them not to talk about what happened and one couple described it as a "cleansing" of extra skin.
The documents said the girls had scarring and abnormalities on their clitorises and labia minora.