AG in colleges: obey the law prohibiting links with abortion providers | North Dakota News


By JAMES MacPHERSON, Associated Press

BISMARCK, ND (AP) – Higher education officials must comply with a state law that prohibits a school from making grants to any person or organization that promotes or performs abortions, said Wednesday North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem in an opinion.

Stenehjem’s opinion came after an investigation by North Dakota University System Chancellor Mark Hagerott, who asked whether the legislation was constitutional or was preempted by previous legal rulings.

Stenehjem said he believed the legislation was not “unenforceable” based on previous court rulings. He said he would not “give his opinion” if the measure was unconstitutional unless it was “clearly and patently unconstitutional”.

The Republican said in an interview that he thinks not.

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The law, he wrote, “should be read to achieve the purpose of the legislature by enacting it.”

The law was primarily aimed at preventing North Dakota State University from making federal grants to Planned Parenthood for sex education.

The annual grant of $ 250,000 to the Fargo-based research university comes from the US Department of Health and Human Services. NDSU President Dean Bresciani said the grant expired in September and would not be renewed.

The bill was easily passed by the Republican-led legislature in April. He sought to penalize any institution that contracts with an abortion provider by cutting its operating budget by 2.5%. A school official signing the contract would also be liable to a misdemeanor charge and a fine.

However, GOP Governor Doug Burgum vetoed the portion of the bill with sanctions, citing state law that already prohibits “a state agency” from funding or supporting programs that “Do not give preference, encouragement and support to normal childbirth”. Burgum said the sections he had not vetoed were meant to make it clear that unless institutions abide by anti-abortion policies, they are not eligible to receive challenge grants.

University system officials said academic freedom and other factors outweighed the loss of grant funds.

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