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Women on both sides write, sign bills to end separation of newborns from incarcerated mothers

Rep. Jamie Becker-Finn started working on the bill in 2019 when she met with women in state prisons and heard their personal experiences.

ST PAUL, Minn. — Thirty-nine women in our state House — Republican and Democrat — rushed to author or sign the two bills that say, no more separating incarcerated women from their newborns.

Because partisanship often wins over practicality, we wanted to know why this time, it didn't.

“Well, there is no party line behind being a mom or giving birth. Democrats, Republicans, nonpartisan, Independents, all of us moms are something,” Republican State Senator Karin Housley said.

She said when she heard of the Senate bill, she rushed to be a part of it.

“Please, please how fast can I sign on to it,” she described saying.

That was the Senate, over on the House side was Democratic Representative Jamie Becker-Finn.

“This is the single-most impactful piece of legislation I have carried in my time here thus far,” Rep. Becker-Finn said of the work she created.

Rep. Becker-Finn started this work in 2019, the day she and others met with women in our state prisons who told her what it was like to give birth, and then be taken away, from their newborns.

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“I think it gets to the core of who we are as human beings and I think there really is at this base level, in your soul you know it's wrong most of the issues we deal with at the legislature are logic and argument and this, in your soul know this is wrong when you learn about it,” Rep. Becker-Finn said.

And so, she worked to make the House bill.

And when it all came to this session co-signers, women lawmakers, of both parties signed on.

“Really, we have come together because it’s really about the babies, it’s about making sure that every single child born in Minnesota has the opportunity for that healthy start,” Rep. Becker-Finn said of the bills that overwhelmingly passed the House and the Senate and are headed to the Governor to sign into law very soon.

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