House Committee Reconsiders and Removes Koppelman Exemption on Parental Rights Following Sexual Assault

Following a weekend of bad press and public outrage, the House Judiciary reconsidered and removed the exemption to SB 2158 offered by the committee’s Chair, Kim Koppelman. The amendment would have exempted spouses from a bill allowing judges to terminate a rapist’s parental rights. Following the reconsideration, the committee gave the bill a “DO PASS” recommendation.

After his amendment was adopted and reported, Koppelman claimed the public backlash was “blown way out of proportion.” He went on to respond to public concern by claiming he was the victim of a “partisan” “attack.” The fact of the matter is, I provided the audio of him offering the amendment in our first post on this subject. That public record of a public meeting of the committee he chairs does not lie.

Rep. Kim Koppelman

Publicly exposing his amendment and the public response was well within “proportion” when federal funding for victims was on the line. Federally, there is an increase in funding under the Violence Against Women Act for states that have a “law permitting mothers of children conceived through rape to seek termination of parental rights of their rapists.” Senate Bill 2185 would put North Dakota in that category. Koppelman’s amendment to exempt rape if it happened in a marriage may have jeopardized that funding.

Ultimately, it was the public that forced this course correction following media reports. Now, that same public should urge their House members to support SB 2158 if they want it to become law. This embarrassing episode for Koppelman proved people are watching and no matter how hard politicians try, the public record will hold the truth.

Tyler Axness