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North Dakota passes legislation that prevents public universities from partnering with abortion vendors

North Dakota State University gave taxpayer dollars to Planned Parenthood

The North Dakota General Assembly sent the governor legislation on April 27 that would prevent public universities that receive funding from two programs if they partner with organizations that promote or commit abortions.

Senate Bill 2030 is primarily an appropriations bill that provides $11.15 million to public universities as part of the “higher education challenge matching grant program.”

Institutions can only receive the taxpayer funds if it affirms it “is not sponsoring, partnering with, applying for grants with, or providing a grant subaward to any person or organization that performs [abortions].” The same language would be attached to another scholarship fund program.

Participating institutions must agree not to work with an organization that “promotes the performance of, an abortion unless the abortion is necessary to prevent the death of the woman.”

Republican state senator Janne Myrdal, sponsored the legislation. Myrdal did not respond to two emails in the past three weeks that asked her about other laws that bar state funds from going to organizations that promote abortion. The College Fix also asked her to respond to academic freedom concerns.

Molly Secor-Turner, a North Dakota State University professor, has partnered with abortion vendor Planned Parenthood to develop a sex education curriculum.

MORE: Planned Parenthood board member to lead ‘health equity’ center

State lawmakers began to raise the issue at least as of 2019, according to Campus Reform. In 2018, the public university gave about 66 percent of its money from a federal grant to Planned Parenthood as part of the research.

Turner did not respond to two emails in the past three weeks that asked her for more details on her research and how it is affiliated with Planned Parenthood.

North Dakota Right to Life celebrated passage of the legislation.

“Thanks to all of those that helped us contact our legislators, SB 2030 passed and is now awaiting the Governor’s signature,” the group’s director, Sierra Heitkamp, wrote on the group’s website.

“We want to get Planned Parenthood off all campuses and started a Christian Schools Project to start with people of faith,” Kristi Hamrick, spokesperson for Students for Life of America, told The College Fix via email.

She said “there have been some innovative legislative solutions to the problem of the nation’s number one abortion vendor infiltrating schools to create customers.”

“You would never trust Big Tobacco to run anti-smoking education, so why do we trust the nation’s number one abortion vendor when they want to be paid for sex education?” Hamrick said.

“School by school, state by state and at the national level, we have to cut financial ties with Planned Parenthood, which profits in the billions by selling bad advice,” Hamrick said.

Academic freedom concerns raised

While pro-life groups and pro-life politicians support the legislation, NDSU’s president warned it would infringe on academic freedom.

“It’s a matter of academic freedom,” NDSU President Dean Bresciani told the Associated Press. While Bresciani raised concerns about academic freedom, his support for free expression does not extend completely to students.

After a group of students used offensive language in a Snapchat group called “Niggers R Us,” Bresciani lamented the fact he could not legally punish “hate speech.”

“Making this issue even more frustrating is that colleges have so few legally permissible tools to react because federal courts have established that hate speech is protected speech,” Bresciani said in a December 3 email to the campus community.

“Hate speech causes students, staff, and faculty of color to experience campus as a racially hostile environment,” Bresciani said.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education also said that the funding program’s riders could lead a university to “go under” if it does not comply.

“In practice, the legislation would force state colleges and universities into an unconstitutional choice: reject state aid and risk going under, or discriminate on the basis of viewpoint,” Josh Smith of FIRE wrote.

Smith did not explain how the loss of funds would harm any university, especially NDSU, which had annual revenue for fiscal year 2018 of $411.8 million according to the school’s 2019-2021 budget proposal.

MORE: Washington governor signs law mandating student abortion coverage

IMAGE: Ken Wolter/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author
Asher Notheis -- Liberty University