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Duquesne halts nonprofit's underwriting of DUQ ads

| Saturday, Oct. 13, 2007, 12:00 p.m.

Pittsburgh public radio station WDUQ yanked underwriting messages by Planned Parenthood on Wednesday after airing them for two days and refunded more than $5,000 in donations from the nonprofit.

"WDUQ has been ordered by the Duquesne University administration to immediately cease airing the acknowledgment of underwriting support from Planned Parenthood," DUQ officials wrote Planned Parenthood in an e-mail. "Accordingly, as the university holds our license, we must pull your remaining schedule."

The move outraged Planned Parenthood officials, who responded by sending an e-mail on Friday to more than 5,000 supporters. They asked supporters to contact DUQ station manager Scott Hanley and Duquesne president Charles Dougherty to request they reverse the decision.

"We believed that we were donating money to DUQ, not Duquesne University," said Kimberlee Evert, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania, Downtown.

"If they're not going to accept money from organizations that don't adhere to (Roman) Catholic doctrine, how far are they going to take this• Are they going to reject donations from hospitals that provide birth control• They have to be consistent. It can't be targeted against just one organization."

Hanley said a donation to DUQ is a donation to Duquesne. He said this is the first time this type of situation has arisen.

"The university's president felt very uncomfortable with accepting gifts from Planned Parenthood," said Hanley, who emphasized the school never has interfered with the station's editorial integrity.

Bridget Fare, a Duquesne spokeswoman, confirmed that the university told DUQ to halt the broadcast of Planned Parenthood's underwriting messages and refund the organization's $5,252.

"Planned Parenthood is not aligned with the university's Catholic mission and identity," said Fare, who cited the organization's support of abortion as an example. "DUQ operates under the university's (nonprofit) status and it can legally accept or decline funding from any organization. Accepting or declining funding from an organization is a separate issue from DUQ's ability to cover controversial news issues."

All public radio stations can reject any underwriting they wish to, said Anna Christopher, a spokeswoman for National Public Radio in Washington.

"It's up to each member station to create its own set of underwriting guidelines," Christopher said.

Calls to the Federal Communications Commission in Washington were not returned.

Fare said Duquesne has a gift acceptance review committee to evaluate the appropriateness of donations if it appears there might be an issue.

But one Catholic listener, Margot Callahan, 43, who volunteers at Planned Parenthood, wondered about Duquesne's inconsistency.

After learning of DUQ's decision, Callahan called another one of the radio station's underwriters, Reproductive Health Specialists in Penn Hills.

"I contacted Reproductive Health Services and asked if they could refer me to someplace to terminate a pregnancy and they did," Callahan wrote in a letter to Hanley on Friday. "Will you drop them as underwriters because they are a full-service reproductive health resource?"

Callahan said DUQ was rejecting money from an organization that is aligned with Duquesne's Catholic teachings: pregnancy prevention and abstinence.

"I told them since they pulled Planned Parenthood, I'm pulling my donation," said Callahan of Mt. Washington. She had pledged $365 to DUQ on Tuesday.

Hanley said withholding donations from DUQ will hurt DUQ.

"I wonder if anyone who supports any worthy causes agrees with all the decisions they make," Hanley said. He couldn't say whether people withdrawing pledges would reverse the station's stance.


Off the air

Text of Planned Parenthood underwriting messages yanked by WDUQ include:

• Support for DUQ comes from Planned Parenthood, offering health care services to men, including screenings for cancer and STDs. Planned Parenthood: Their mission is prevention.

• Support for DUQ comes from Planned Parenthood, providing comprehensive sexuality education, including lessons on abstinence. Planned Parenthood: Their mission is prevention.

• Support for DUQ comes from Planned Parenthood, whose community educators empower teens to make good choices by teaching self-esteem. Planned Parenthood: Their mission is prevention.

• Support for DUQ comes from Planned Parenthood, offering cancer screenings for women and men. Planned Parenthood: Their mission is prevention.

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