SB2185 is legislation, introduced by Senator JoNell Bakke (D-Grand Forks), which adds rape to the list of reasons in the North Dakota Century Code for which the courts can terminate parental rights.

The bill had pretty straight forward language as it passed the state Senate, unanimously, earlier this year:

The bill got a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee earlier this month, and since then it’s been amended. As House Minority Leader Josh Boschee (D-Fargo) noted on Twitter last night, the bill has gone from good policy to something awful:

Here’s the amendment he’s talking about. It adds new language (section 2 below) saying the courts may not terminate parental rights if the rapist is married to the victim:

Because it’s not rape if you’re married, I guess? Or it’s somehow a lesser offense?

Which is ridiculous notion. Nobody who creates a child through rape deserves to have parental rights over that child, whatever their relationship to the victim.

Also, can you imagine trying to co-parent with your rapist?

Please remember that this legislation isn’t an automatic termination of parental rights for rapists. It’s language giving the courts the option of terminating those rights. There would have been plenty of room for judicial discretion under the original bill.

Per Boschee, the amendment was offered by Rep. Kim Koppelman (R-West Fargo) who is also the chair of the Judiciary Committee and also a co-sponsor of the original bill. I emailed him this morning for comment, and will update this post with any response I receive.

The bill has apparently been sent out of committee as amended, though so far the state’s bill tracking database doesn’t show that action.

UPDATE: “Who told you that I ‘offered’ that amendment?,” Rep. Koppelman said in an emailed response to my inquiry about this amendment. “It was prepared on behalf of the Judiciary Committee, per committee discussion on the issue, and adopted with only one dissenting vote. I don’t even vote on such amendments, as chairman of the Committee!”

“Obviously, you’re getting false or biased information,” he added.

I directed him to Rep. Boschee’s tweet on the matter claiming that the amendment was requested by the chair of the committee, which is Koppelman.

Here’s the bill’s language as it was approved by the Senate:

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