ND bill targets 'sexual reproductive imposition'

"Our Father" Netflix documentary prompted lawmaker to act

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"Yea" photo illustration
Darren Gibbins / The Bismarck Tribune

BISMARCK — Doctors would face a felony charge for implanting reproductive material into unconsenting patients under a bill the North Dakota House of Representatives passed Thursday, Feb. 2.

House Bill 1140, brought by Rep. Bernie Satrom, R-Jamestown, passed unanimously. It criminalizes "sexual reproductive imposition."

Satrom told the House Human Services Committee earlier that his inspiration for the bill came after watching a film on Netflix.

"Our Father" is the story of an Indiana fertility doctor who used his own sperm to impregnate unknowing patients, fathering likely dozens of children in the 1970s and '80s.

He ultimately was given a one-year suspended sentence in 2017 and paid a $500 fine after pleading guilty to two counts of obstruction of justice. Indiana had no law specifically forbidding the doctor's conduct.


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Rep. Bernie Satrom, R-Jamestown

Neither does North Dakota, according to Satrom.

"This particular bill would allow us to discourage that kind of behavior. If somebody decided to do something, it would provide some very serious consequences," he told the House panel last month.

Rep. Kathy Frelich, R-Devils Lake, called the bill "proactive."

"We can sit back and rely on the theory of 'North Dakota nice,' or we can act today," she told the House.

The House passed the bill with no discussion. The bill now goes to the Senate.

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