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Bill passed to stop NDSU ties with Planned Parenthood

BISMARCK (AP) — The Republican-led North Dakota Legislature has passed legislation aimed at preventing North Dakota State University from funneling federal grant money to Planned Parenthood for sex education in the state.

The bill easily passed the Republican-led chamber, 35-11, on Monday. The GOP-led House passed the measure 66-25 earlier this month. It is unclear of GOP Doug Burgum will sign the bill. Burgum is a North Dakota State graduate and former Bison football cheerleader. Some lawmakers have said he is getting much pressure from university officials and alum to veto the bill.

The bill says any institution that enters into a contract with “a person that performs or promotes the performance of an abortion” would have its operating budget cut by 2.5%. The school official signing the contract also would face a misdemeanor charge punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $1,500 fine.

The sanction would mean a $2.8 million blow to the Fargo-based research university.

The $250,000 annual grant to the university comes from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Bresciani has said the grant expires in September and won’t be renewed, but not because of the Legislature’s threat of sanctions.

Bresciani said that he won’t bow to political pressure or proposed sanctions against the school for having ties to Planned Parenthood. He called it “a matter of academic freedom.”

But also he said the faculty member who heads the program “is moving on to other things.”

Republican Sen. Janne Myrdal of Edinburg, one of the Legislature’s most ardent anti-abortion lawmakers, sponsored the bill. The original Senate held hostage grant dollars to the state’s 10 other colleges and universities unless NDSU ends its partnership with Planned Parenthood. The House amended the bill to hold harmless other schools

Myrdayl has said NDSU officials have “ignored” lawmakers’ concerns with the school’s relationship with Planned Parenthood. Two years ago, nearly 90 lawmakers in the Republican-led Legislature wrote an open letter to NDSU President Dean Bresciani asking him to do so.

While Planned Parenthood is the United States’ largest single provider of reproductive health services, including abortion, it does not have any health centers or provide abortions in North Dakota. The sole clinic providing abortions in the state is the Red River Women’s Clinic in Fargo.