South Dakota State Library Removes Web Site Link to Planned Parenthood

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 13, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

South Dakota State Library Removes Web Site Link to Planned Parenthood

by Maria Gallagher Staff Writer
July 13, 2004

Pierre, SD ( — The South Dakota State Library has agreed to, at least temporarily, remove a link to Planned Parenthood from the library system’s website for teens. The move follows objections raised by Governor Mike Rounds and Catholic Bishop Robert Carlson of the Diocese of Sioux Falls.

Rounds said the link to Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion operation, was inappropriate.

"I’m not sure the state should be in the business of promoting a particular cause. A clear pro-choice message comes through strongly," Rounds said.

The board voted 5-1 Friday to delete the Planned Parenthood link for two months while board members review the situation. The link to Teenwire web site, that Planned Parenthood uses to target teenagers, disappeared on Monday.

"We were asked to put it on hold," Richard Van Beek of Aberdeen, vice chairman of the library board, told the Black Hills Pioneer newspaper. "We’ll study it and see if it’s a problem. We put it on the shelf until we get through the study," Van Beek added.

Bishop Carlson noted that Planned Parenthood is a source of misinformation for many teenagers.

In a letter written to the Governor, the bishop said, "I trust that you will agree that the information found on these links (is) not only objectionable, but in many instances false. Undeniably, it is sending a harmful message to our valued youth."

"I find it extremely troubling that the state of South Dakota would encourage our young women and men to turn to Planned Parenthood for any guidance, whether it be sex education or the intrinsic evil of abortion," Bishop Carlson added.

The director of South Dakota Planned Parenthood, Kate Looby, said, if Planned Parenthood’s link should be removed, so should a link to Campus Life, a sister publication of Christianity Today. Campus Life encourages abstinence for teens.

"So, amazingly, the board voted on whether to remove links to both Planned Parenthood and Campus Life. Got it? The idea is this: If you can’t tell kids to have sex, then you can’t tell them not to have sex," Christianity Today said in a written statement.

"Fortunately, the vote to ban Campus Life failed (it needed a majority, and instead the board split, 3-3)," Christianity Today said.

Planned Parenthood’s Looby called the action to remove the Planned Parenthood link an act of censorship.

"It makes me scared when the bishop is running the state," Lobby told the Sioux Falls Argus Leader.

But the Governor disputed accusations of censorship. Rounds noted that the Planned Parenthood teen site is still available to Internet users — it’s just not accessible through the library home page.

The Governor’s spokesman, Mark Johnston, told the Pioneer newspaper, "We asked the library board to drop the Planned Parenthood link because the site directs or asks people to sign up for their political activities. We don’t have links to the Democrats or Republicans or anyone like that. Only the Secretary of State’s website has that information."

Bishop Carlson urged the Governor to make sure that organizations that encourage sexual activity outside of marriage are excluded from the state library website.

The bishop said the state must adopt policies that favor chastity and abstinence over "the ‘safe sex’ message now prevalent in our society.

"This issue is much too important to leave to a ‘balanced’ approach. We need to provide solid leadership and take strong positions when teaching our youth about human sexuality," Bishop Carlson wrote.

The removal of the Planned Parenthood link pleases South Dakota Right to Life, the state’s leading pro-life organization.

"South Dakota Right to Life strongly supports the removal of the Planned Parenthood link from the SD State Library’s web site," the group’s state director, Rachel A. Hansen, said.

"This isn’t an issue of censorship; this is about protecting our kids from Planned Parenthood’s dangerous propaganda," Hansen said. "Planned Parenthood tries to indoctrinate our teenagers into believing that deadly behaviors, such as premarital sex
and abortion, are okay."

"With 80% of South Dakotans considering themselves pro-life, most taxpayers don’t want their money used to advertise Planned Parenthood’s anti-life agenda," Hansen added.