In making her case to terminate a federal grant partnership between North Dakota State University and Planned Parenthood, Sen. Janna Myrdal, R-Edinburg, repeatedly references a particular section of North Dakota law to bolster her argument.

Myrdal is only telling half the story though. She neglects to note that the section of the law on which she bases her argument, NDCC 14-02.3-01, was declared unconstitutional in 1995 by federal courts. This decision is public and easy to find.

In other words, the cornerstone of Myrdal’s argument is entirely invalid – it simply doesn’t hold water. That’s a pretty big omission to make when you’re threatening financial penalties, jail time, and fines against public employees simply for doing their jobs.


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Ignorance does not excuse her and other legislators’ attempts to mislead the public. As an attorney, I would face significant consequences if I were to make the kind of inaccurate and deceptive claims Myrdal is making. We ought to hold elected officials to higher standards of truth.

I hope legislators and the governor take this information into account when deciding whether to support Myrdal’s explicit threat to academic freedom – and I hope they swiftly shut her effort down.

Duane Lillehaug lives in Fargo.

This letter does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.