The DFL-controlled Minnesota House blocked an amendment to its omnibus public safety bill that would have expanded the criminal penalties for subjecting children to the practice of female genital mutilation.
The amendment was offered by Rep. Mary Franson (R-Alexandria) during a Monday night House session. Franson has been a vocal advocate for victims of FGM and has been trying to pass iterations of the amendment for two years.
The amendment was introduced in bill form earlier this session, but was blocked from even receiving a hearing, as The Minnesota Sun previously reported. Under the amendment, the criminal definition of FGM would have been expanded to include punishments for parents who subject their children to the practice.
Current Minnesota law makes it illegal for doctors to perform FGM, but there are no penalties in place for the parents.
“Members, this is a serious topic, one that the nation is watching,” Franson said Monday night. “It is up to the states to protect girls from being victimized.”
Democrats, however, objected to the amendment on the grounds that it would place additional costs on the criminal justice system, since it establishes a new felony.
“So this amendment would create a new felony for FGM, which will require an additional cost. So members I emphasize that FGM is already illegal in Minnesota and has been since 1996,” Rep. Rena Moran (DFL-St. Paul) said.
“We have a fiscal note on the bill. I think that precedent actually precedes any others. I think we’d actually trust the fiscal note on the bill—no fiscal note, zero cost,” House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt (R-Crown) said in response. “There’s no reason not to vote on this, except that maybe you just don’t want to.”
The amendment was ultimately blocked from receiving a vote.
“I have been working on this legislation for over two years now,” Franson said in her appeal. “I have spoken to numerous survivors from our state and all across the nation, and they agree that this bill is needed.”
“This bill is about defending the health and dignity of women, not only in Minnesota, but sending a message worldwide that little girls matter,” Franson added. “This is gender violence.”
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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of Battleground State News, The Ohio Star, and The Minnesota Sun. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Background Photo “Minnesota House Chamber” by Chris Gaukel CC BY-SA 2.0.