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To: House Human Services Committee
From: Christopher Dodson, Executive Director
House Bill 1139 - Requirements for Birth Records
January 9, 2023

The North Dakota Catholic Conference supports House Bill 1139. The bill will codify into law that a birth record must include the child's sex and that the report of sex is based on the biological presentation of sex at birth.

Discussions about sex designation and birth certificates have arisen around the country. A few days before this bill was introduced, I was researching the issue, and, to my surprise, discovered that the North Dakota Century Code does not require birth records/certificates to record the child's sex.

The administrative rules concerning birth registration are set out in Article 33-04 of the Administrative Code. They also do not require designating recording the child’s sex. Section 33-04-12-02 of the Administrative Code sets forth the requirements and process for obtaining an amended birth record following a sex conversion operation. (
A copy of the rule is attached to this testimony.) Still, there is nothing in the law requiring the recording of sex in the first place.

Most of the time, birth records are filed with the state electronically. The Department of Health and Human Services has created a worksheet for the entry of the information for the birth record. That worksheet includes, but does not require, reporting the child’s sex. The options given on the worksheet are “male,” “female,” and “not yet determined.” (
A copy of the worksheet is attached.)

Birth records are not personal documents. They are official state documents legally recording a particular event. This information is not only important for legal purposes, but it also provides essential public health data. At a minimum, the records should include medically accurate sex designations.

While we support the bill, we suggest amendments to better accomplish its intent. The proposed amendments are attached. The amendments change the structure of the bill to:

  1. Define “birth record”;
  2. Define “sex” for purposes of birth records; and
  3. Require recording the child’s sex in a birth record.

The definition of “sex” used here is used in other legislation around the country and makes clear that, for these purposes, sex is based on biological factors present at birth. If those biological indicators are ambiguous, the sex could be designated as “not yet determined.”

Please give a
Do Pass recommendation to House Bill 1139.

What We Do

The North Dakota Catholic Conference acts on behalf of the Roman Catholic bishops of North Dakota to respond to public policy issues of concern to the Catholic Church and to educate Catholics and the general public about Catholic social doctrine.
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