- The University of Idaho has advised employees not to counsel or counsel students about abortion.
- A 2021 state law prevents publicly funded institutions, such as public universities, from promoting abortion.
- The memo also said university officials cannot perform birth control on students under state law.
The University of Idaho has issued an email warning to employees not to promote or provide abortions to students amid the state’s near-total ban on the procedure.
“When university employees are performing their jobs, they are prohibited by law” from promoting, providing or counseling in favor of abortion or contracting with abortion providers, the university’s general counsel warned in a lengthy email, according to Idaho Capital. Sun.
The 2021 state law specifically targets institutions that receive state funding, such as public universities, and violators could face misdemeanor or felony charges in addition to being fired and barred from state employment, the report said.
“This is a challenging law for many and has real consequences for individuals, requiring individual prosecution,” university spokeswoman Jodi Walker said, according to the Capital Sun.
Walker said the university supports its students, staff and their “academic freedom” but must “work within the laws set forth by our state,” according to the Capital Sun.
“Employees who engage in their work in a pro-abortion manner could be seen as promoting abortion. While abortion can be discussed as a policy issue in the classroom, we strongly recommend that employees responsible for the classroom remain neutral or are at risk of violating this law,” Walker said, according to the Capital Sun.
The state’s abortion-enabling ban, which went into effect in August, bans the procedure after conception, except in cases where a pregnant woman’s life is in danger or in cases of rape or incest (reported to the police); according to The Washington Post.
The university’s memo, which noted that “the language of this statute is not a model of clarity,” said university employees cannot perform birth control on students.
“Since the violation is a felony, we advise a conservative approach here, that the university does not provide the standard birth control itself,” the memo reads, according to the Capital Sun.