After reading The Forum’s editorial about North Dakota State University's partnership with Planned Parenthood readers might wonder if the editorial board reads its own paper.
First, the editorial claims that legislators urged NDSU to drop the Planned Parenthood workshops provided in partnership with the university. The letter, which was posted on The Forum’s website and signed by 89 legislators, did no such thing. It merely asked questions about why Planned Parenthood was chosen for the project, NDSU’s involvement, and whether the project was actually needed. Inquiries by lawmakers about a state entity partnering with an abortion provider and the leader of the abortion lobby is not an affront to academic freedom. It is responsible lawmaking.
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President Dean Bresciani’s response — also posted on The Forum’s website — validated the reasonableness of the questions. The letter confirmed that NDSU was used as a conduit to funnel nearly $600,000 in federal tax dollars to Planned Parenthood so the abortion provider could expand its reach into North Dakota schools. That certainly is a legitimate concern for North Dakotans and their elected representatives.
Second, referring to a Forum story from January that referenced federal data, the editorial claims that North Dakota has stalled when it comes to lowering teen pregnancies. In that very same story, however, I cited more recent data from the North Dakota Department of Health showing that teen pregnancies have dropped significantly in the state. In 2010, the teen pregnancy rate in North Dakota was 34.8. In 2017, it was 19.5. To put it in another perspective, the number of teenage pregnancies in the state has dropped 46 percent since 2007 and dropped 30% from 2016 to 2017. These numbers reflect all mothers 19 and younger. The rates and numbers are even lower for minor girls.
These numbers hardly justify NDSU becoming a vehicle to help the Planned Parenthood abortion empire obtain more federal dollars. We expect better from our university.
Dodson is executive director of the North Dakota Catholic Conference.