MINOT, N.D. — North Dakota State University is an institution that balked at raising a couple of million dollars to rebuild a science building that habitually caught fire and had no running water but had no problem raising tens of millions of dollars for a new football practice facility.

To hear NDSU President Dean Bresciani crowing about "academic freedom" is enough to make informed observers laugh right out loud.

Bresciani and many of his fellow administrators at NDSU care about academics only so far as they need to maintain that facade as cover for their taxpayer-funded football team.

What prompted Bresciani's contrived fit of pique is the Legislature's long-standing objections to a grant relationship NDSU has with Planned Parenthood.

North Dakota's citizens have filled the Legislature with mostly socially conservative Republicans.

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Planned Parenthood runs abortion clinics and, in more recent years, has become a de facto wing of the Democratic Party.

It's not terribly surprising that conservative lawmakers aren't happy with one of our state's largest and most visible taxpayer-funded institutions doing business with a group that not only stands in opposition to their generally pro-life viewpoint but spends tens of millions of dollars on defeating Republican candidates.

And, let's be honest, the folks at NDSU wouldn't likely be going to the mattresses screaming "academic freedom" to defend a grant from a Republican-aligned group like, say, the National Rifle Association.

I suspect our state's Democratic lawmakers, few in number as they are, would have something to say about that sort of a relationship, too.

NDSU's people say the choice to work with Planned Parenthood is circumstantial, and the research in question is about sex education, not abortion.

"The programs are trying to prevent pregnancy from occurring in the first place so that a young person would never have to decide between the hard choice of continuing a pregnancy or an abortion," associate professor Molly Secor-Turner has said, while also pointing out that Planned Parenthood is the only regional partner that would qualify under federal grant requirements.

This is not an unfair argument.

I've written before that this research is important. Impactful sex education curriculum can reduce abortions. It is, or at least should be, a rare area of agreement between pro-choice and pro-life Americans.

There's just no getting around that Planned Parenthood is one of the most provocatively partisan organizations in our country. The idea that they could be a valid partner in research free of political agendas is ridiculous, despite the protests to the contrary coming from NDSU.

The Legislature is fed up with this situation. The Senate has approved legislation that denies matching dollars for grants under the state's Challenge Grants program from groups that promote abortion. The legislation is currently before the House, and it was the impetus for Bresciani's hypocritical outbursts.

Is that legislation too heavy-handed? Perhaps, but it's a predictable response to NDSU's insistence at having a financial relationship with a hyper-political, belligerently-partisan organization like Planned Parenthood.

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Rob Port, founder of SayAnythingBlog.com, is a Forum Communications commentator. Reach him on Twitter at @robport or via email at rport@forumcomm.com.