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If you want to end abortion, why kill a grant that teaches about birth control?

March 23, 2013 - Andrea Johnson
A question for legislators who voted in favor of all those abortion restrictions this week. What possible sense does it make to kill a grant that teaches kids about birth control and could prevent some of those unwanted pregnancies?

Rep. Bette Grande, R-Fargo, is the legislator behind the amendment to an anti-abortion bill that would kill a three-year, $1.2 million sex education grant for North Dakota State University. That grant would pay for voluntary sex education for 15 to 19-year-olds in the Fargo area. Parental consent would be required for the program, which involves a partnership between Planned Parenthood and NDSU.

Legislators have been trying to quash that program for months, presumably because Planned Parenthood is involved, even though Planned Parenthood in North Dakota does not perform abortions. Perhaps Grande is not familiar with the reality of teenage sexual behavior. According to the 2011 North Dakota Youth Risk Behavior Survey, an anonymous survey given to junior high and high school students every two years, 44.8 percent of all high school students in the state have had sexual intercourse. By the time they reach their senior year of high school, 62 percent of kids in the state have had sex. Thirteen percent of freshmen through seniors have had sex with more than four people in their lifetime. Forty five percent of high school students have had oral sex. Fifty three percent of high school students in the state do not believe abstinence is very important to them at this point in their lives. Only 12 percent of those sexually active students have ever been tested for an STD. Given those statistics, I think comprehensive sex education might be very important for North Dakota teenagers. Don't you?

Last month Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem ruled that NDSU could accept the grant. There had been some question about whether the grant would violate a state law that forbids government funding to people or groups that encourage abortion, according to an Associated Press story. The state law was ruled invalid more than 30 years ago, because it conflicts with federal laws.

Expect more of the same if Gov. Jack Dalrymple signs this bill and other abortion-related legislation into law. The Red River Women's Clinic in Fargo has promised to take all of this to court and it will more than likely win an immediate court injunction. Grande and our other legislators have just pledged to waste a lot of taxpayer money on a very costly legal battle.

Dalrymple should veto this bill along with similar, misguided legislation passed this week. Surely we have better things to spend our oil surplus money on than defending unconstitutional legislation.


Article Comments



Mar-25-13 4:40 PM

Wikipedia is an encyclopedia and likely contains information about all sides of the debate. It's not an appropriate resource for writing legislation.

Not all parents can or will educate their children about sex. The ones who are at highest risk are probably the kids most in need of a comprehensive sex education program. That's the population the NDSU grant will serve -- at risk teens.


Mar-25-13 4:14 PM

Wikipedia is against abortion, who knew! Hilarious


Mar-25-13 3:12 PM

I did look up the info on studies done, polls taken, etc., and it is as you say, Andrea. Most of the studies/polls indicate a preference for abstinence-plus programs (abstinence and ed about birth control, etc).

As a parent, I prefer to teach my young people about sex, rather than hand that responsibility over to an agency or school.


Mar-25-13 2:37 PM

Specifically, a 2007 U.S. Department of Health study determined that abstinence only programs didn't deter teen pregnancy. States that mandate abstinence only programs have the highest teen pregnancy rates. They may actually deter teens from using birth control if they do end up having sex, putting them at greater risk of pregnancy and disease. kids who have been taught a comprehensive sex ed. curriculum are 60 percent less likely to get pregnant or to get a girlfriend pregnant. All of these studies are readily available online.


Mar-25-13 2:19 PM

And, no, that is not supposition. There have been studies done of different sex education programs and abstinence only programs did worse than those that included information on how to use birth control on the ages kids first became sexually active and use of birth control, etc. Information is power. giving kids that information doesn't necessarily mean they use it. look it up if you don't believe me.


Mar-25-13 2:13 PM

It's the prevailing, mainstream view.


Mar-25-13 2:12 PM

"The danger is that kids who have received abstinence-only education are MORE likely to have unprotected sex and risk getting pregnant or having an STD."

I think this is a large supposition.


Mar-25-13 2:11 PM

"We no longer think it's a great idea for kids to marry the first person they're involved with, but the mid- to late teens is the age when kids are most apt to become sexually active."

Who is this "we" being referred to, because there are some people I know that don't think this way.


Mar-25-13 11:47 AM

But, like it or not, you can't put the genie back in the bottle, to use another cliched metaphor. This is the way the world is; this is the way kids act. You can preach abstinence at them all you like and a large percentage of kids will ignore you and be sexually active. The danger is that kids who have received abstinence-only education are MORE likely to have unprotected sex and risk getting pregnant or having an STD. Comprehensive sex ed. programs, like the one the NDSU-Planned Parenthood grant would be, actually are more successful at getting kids to put off having sex for a year or two and at getting them to take precautions and avoid unwanted pregnancy than the abstinence-only programs. The Legislature's opposition to that grant make zero sense.

I don't like abortion any more than you do. If I could wave a magic wand, there would no more abortions and everyone would get married before having sex. But that's about as likely as a 100 degree day in January in North Dakota.


Mar-25-13 11:21 AM

Blame it on the sexual revolution and cultural mores, then, though I'd also point out that North Dakota kids used to get married around the time today's kids are becoming sexually active. Several of my great-grandparents were married by their late teens. One of my great-aunts by marriage was married at 15. Having children out of wedlock was not unknown back in the early 20th century either. We no longer think it's a great idea for kids to marry the first person they're involved with, but the mid- to late teens is the age when kids are most apt to become sexually active.

Obviously murder is never going to be acceptable, or assault or stealing or vandalism or other such crimes. But what we're arguing about here is social behavior that greatly offends some and that others barely shrug at. That's a different kettle of fish entirely.


Mar-25-13 12:57 AM

Kids are behaving pretty much the way they always have. If anything, today's teens are slightly LESS likely to have sex or use drugs than kids 20 years ago. But hormones are powerful and they often win, even when a kid is religious or from a "good" family. I think laws ought to be written for the way people actually live, to meet their needs and in a way that will work, not for how people WISH they would live.


Mar-24-13 10:28 PM

Well the bill won't stop the grant because it's too late. That said, I believe it would make it illegal for any individual fitting the criteria to even attend a state college.


Mar-24-13 4:26 PM

North Dakota has abstinence only education and the highest per capita number of churches in the United States, as well as more two parent families than many other states. More than half of the kids are still sexually active by 17 or 18. Obviously abstinence only education is not terribly effective.


Mar-24-13 4:23 PM

Why should they have to? Grant money doesn't grow on trees. What they want to do is perfectly legal.


Mar-24-13 2:36 PM

At what point is any of the taxpayer money used by the program in question going to fund abortion? The elephant in the room says that people in favor of this bill really want abstinence only education.


Mar-24-13 12:19 PM

The amendment does not prevent education about birth control. It only restricts who can receive state funding. Taxpayers should not be forced to subsidize abortion. If NDSU wants to do the program, it can do it alone or with another partner.


Mar-23-13 6:00 PM

All I will say is that Wikipedia, while it may often be a useful first reference, is not a tool that should be used to write legislation.


Mar-23-13 2:11 PM

Again...Great Article, Andrea!!! Along with all of these, why don't you also mention that these abortion bills were NOT written by our representatives, they were ALL from outside of ND entities, and from..get this...WIKIPEDIA!!!


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