North Dakota AG says higher education should comply with law barring funneling grant money to a person or organization that promotes or performs abortions

By Dave Andrusko

Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem

Responding to an inquiry from North Dakota University System Chancellor Mark Hagerott, Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said Wednesday that higher education officials “should comply with a state law that forbids a school from funneling grant money to a person or organization that promotes or performs abortions,”  according to the Associated Press’ James MacPherson.

 “The requirements of SB 2030 should be read to carry out the purpose of the Legislative Assembly to prevent state funds from flowing to organizations that perform or promote the performance of abortions, and NDUS officials should exercise ‘ordinary care and diligence’ in ensuring compliance with those requirements when applying for Challenge Grant Funds,” he wrote [https://attorneygeneral.nd.gov/sites/ag/files/documents/Opinions/2021/Letter/2021-L-02.pdf]. .

The bill passed in April and “sought to penalize any institution that enters into a contract with an abortion provider by having its operating budget cut by 2.5%,” MacPherson wrote. “The $250,000 annual grant to the Fargo-based research university comes from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.”

Gov. Doug Burgum vetoed the part of the bill which included the 2.5% penalty. He cited state law that already forbids “an agency of the state” from funding or supporting programs that do not “give preference, encouragement and support to normal childbirth.”

“Burgum said the sections he did not veto were intended to clarify that unless institutions abide by anti-abortion policies, they are ineligible to receive challenge grant dollars,” MacPherson said.