Closing The Gap

Amy Klobuchar says her career in politics was fueled by being kicked out of the hospital just 24 hours after she gave birth

Democratic Presidential Candidate Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) speaks to guests during a campaign stop at Music Man Square on February 2, 2020 in Mason City, Iowa.
Scott Olson | Getty Images

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar is slowly making gains as a potential front-runner in the Democratic presidential election.

After finishing in fifth place in the Iowa caucuses earlier this month, Klobuchar solidified her place as a top-tier candidate in the New Hampshire primary. Trailing only behind Sen. Bernie Sanders and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Klobuchar came in third place.

As a long-time member of Congress, the Yale University graduate became the first woman elected from Minnesota to the U.S. Senate in the state's history, in 2006.

Prior to serving in the Senate, she worked for eight years as the attorney for Hennepin County, which is the largest prosecutor's office in Minnesota. As a mom to one daughter, 24-year-old Abigail Klobuchar Bessler, the senator often credits motherhood with helping to jump start her career in politics.

Senator Amy Klobuchar speaks with supporters at a polling place in Manchester, NH on February 11, 2020. She was joined by her daughter Abigail Bessler.
Bonnie Jo Mount/The Washington Post via Getty Images

In a 2010 interview with ELLE, Klobuchar explains that when her daughter was first born, Abigail was not able to swallow and had to be fed through a stomach tube for the first three years of her life. Though her daughter remained in intensive care for an extended period of time, Klobuchar herself was not able to remain in the hospital. She says within 24 hours "they threw me out of the hospital, which is horrible even if your baby's not sick."

That experience inspired the then-corporate lawyer to go before state legislatures to successfully lobby for Minnesota to pass one of the country's first laws that guaranteed new moms and their babies could stay in the hospital at least 48 hours after birth.

Klobuchar's success with getting the bill passed in Minnesota led then-President Bill Clinton to pass the law on a federal level in 1996. "I had to go and testify about things like your water breaking," she says. "So, I told them very detailed things to make them feel squeamish so they'd pass the bill the right way."

When it looked like some of the lobbyists wanted to delay the process of getting the law passed, Klobuchar says she took six of her pregnant friends with her to help her testify in her case. "When they asked when this bill should take effect, all my pregnant friends raised their hands and said, 'Now,'" she explains.

The 59-year-old, who is qualified to participate in the next Democratic debate on Feb. 19, plans to continue her fight for new mothers and other citizens who are in need of greater health care attention. In a Medium blog post, she writes that in her first 100 days as president she would "enact an ambitious, optimistic agenda to improve our health care, combat climate change, pursue economic justice and shared prosperity, and build a stronger democracy and safer world."

Abigail, who has been seen on the campaign trail advocating for her mother's election, told CBS Minnesota last year that she's "really proud" of her mother's decision to run for president. "I'm excited for, like I said, what she's campaigning on and the issues she cares about," she said. "I'm ready to spread that, and help her in any way I can."

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