ST. PAUL, Minn. — Minnesota Representatives passed a bill on female genital mutilation (FGM) on the floor of the House Monday afternoon.
Members of the House voted 124 to 4 in favor of H.F. 2621, to increase the penalties for those who are complicit in the act of committing FGM in the state of Minnesota.
As reported by Alpha News, Rep. Mary Franson (R-Alexandria) introduced legislation to increase penalties for individuals who are found to have knowledge of an FGM procedure being performed on an individual.
“Minnesotans were shocked when they heard FGM had come to our state. I was appalled to learn that parents who abuse their girls in this life-scarring way are not held responsible for the crime,” Franson said, when she first introduced the bill.
Members of the House spent more than 30 minutes debating on the particulars of the bill.
“[The bill] it’s going to save lives,” Franson told her colleagues on the floor. “What if it was a cultural norm to chop off a penis?” Franson asked. “It would be a different conversation.”
Rep. Debra Hilstrom (D-Brooklyn Park) offered the A-11 amendment, which clarified that only those who commit FGM in the United States would be held liable, not those who have had it done before they immigrated to the United States.
“We can do this differently, we don’t need to bring more people into the criminal justice system,” Rep. Rena Moran (D-St. Paul) told the House. Explaining that she would vote no on the bill because she had an issue criminalizing a cultural piece, equating it to parents spanking their child.
“It’s a drastic step, but we haven’t done enough about this [FGM],” Rep. Susan Allen (D-St. Paul) told members of the House in agreement with Moran’s statement.
“This cannot be equated to spanking,” Rep. Peggy Scott (R-Andover) said. Scott further said she believed that parents knew that they were doing something illegal, which is why they left the state to have the procedure done.
Rep. Tina Liebling (D-Rochester), who is also running for Governor, shared her concerns about the bill. “I’m struggling with this,” Liebling said, “I don’t think this bill does that,” in response to parents who may be deported after receiving a felony.
Liebling also shared similar sentiments with Moran and Allen raising concerns over separating families, stating that separating kids from their parents or deporting the parents could cause more harm than good.
Rep. David Bly (D-Northfield) joined Moran, Allen, and Liebling in their decision to vote no against the measure.
“I’ve wept more for the people who were not taken out of the home, over those who have,” Rep. Tony Cornish (R-Vernon Center).
Rep. Ron Kresha (R-Little Falls) shared a similar testimony as Cornish explaining, “kids love parents despite their treatment.”
The bill’s passage in the House comes as the Senate is currently looking through its companion legislation.