In More Bullshit Happenings Due to Conservative Politicians Involving Themselves in Matters of Women's Health — don't worry if you missed an episode; it's a daily program, folks! — North Dakota State University professors are now battling against GOP lawmakers (and their own president!) to receive the grant funds they were awarded from the US Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families.
According to Mother Jones, NDSU Professors Brandy Randall and Molly Secor-Turner won a three-year, $1.2 million competitive grant to "prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases in teens who are homeless, in foster care, or in the juvenile justice system". Sounds like something that might he extremely needed and very necessary, right? Right.
You see, the research funds are being directed to Planned Parenthood's office in Fargo so that they can run the program and the professors will evaluate the results. Planned Parenthood is the obvious choice because who has better access to children and women in need? Seems like a great plan, and everything was moving forward smoothly, but then the gently snorring trolls awoke from under their bridges when they heard the sound of women receiving basic health care services.
"When I see something that says this is Planned Parenthood-they're not even a part of the state of North Dakota. They don't serve anyone in North Dakota, and they shouldn't be a part of North Dakota. They're not a part of how we do business in this state," said Rep. Bette Grande on a local radio show decrying the partnership: "It is an overt abortion industry that we don't want to be a part of." On Jan. 15, NDSU President Dean Bresciani said on a conservative talk radio show that the school had decided to block the funds, citing a "legal hang-up" that prevents the school from working with Planned Parenthood.
NDSU put a hold on the grant until they can successfully prove it violates a 1979 state law that bars state dollars, or federal dollars coming through the state, from being used "as family planning funds by any person or public or private agency which performs, refers, or encourages abortion." However, critics say this is a bunch of bullshit since Planned Parenthood in North Dakota doesn't provide abortion services, and the grant isn't designed to provide family planning care like birth control.
Luckily, there are some professors who are rightfully very pissed about this. They're issuing public responses decrying the decision, and calling President Bresciani out as wimp who's bowing to the political pressure of a few nut job legislators.
Planned Parenthood isn't too pleased about the situation either:
"The university president lacks the courage and willingness to protect and defend academic integrity that he should have as university president," Sarah Stoesz, president of Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, told Mother Jones. "[Bresciani] is caving to some ideologically motivated legislators because he is worried about state funding for the university."
"To turn away the grant on an ideological basis really just defies logic, particularly in North Dakota, where there is so little available to at-risk youth," she continued. "This is really a program that is a wonderful lifeline for kids that don't have other options."
You really have to wonder about people who are supposed to watch out for our children — the lawmakers, the university presidents — who are so close-minded and self-interested that they consistently put their own wants above the desperate needs of our nation's most vulnerable. Here's hoping President Bresciani gets his priorities in check before he does anything rash — you know, like turn down a 1.2 million dollar grant that could bring prestige to the school and much needed help to hundreds of children.