The University of Idaho is urging staff to “remain neutral” in discussions about abortion and avoid promoting contraception in response to state laws.
Following the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade, Idaho banned abortion in most cases, save for medical emergencies and cases of rape or incest reported to law enforcement.
Now, about a month after the state’s abortion ban went into effect, some people on Twitter claim that staff at an Idaho university have been warned not to do it discuss abortion and birth control with students.
Employees were “informed that any discussion of abortion or birth control that was not completely neutral could result in immediate dismissal, a permanent ban from working in the state of Idaho, a felony charge and fines,” one person claimed in a viral tweet on September 25.
Has the University of Idaho warned employees they could be fired and charged with promoting abortion or contraception?
Yes, the University of Idaho warned employees they could be fired and charged with a felony for promoting abortion or contraception.
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The University of Idaho recently urged staff to “remain neutral” in discussions about abortion, warning them that promoting or providing some reproductive health services could result in people being fired or charged with a criminal offense.
In a memo sent Sept. 23 by the university’s legal counsel, staff were told that state law “prohibits them from taking any action and using or providing any funds or facilities of the institution” to promote or facilitate abortion advise or advise students about abortions. Employees are also prohibited under state law from “advertising or promoting abortion or contraceptive services” and dispensing FDA-approved emergency contraceptives such as Plan B, the memo said.
Employees who violate state laws regarding abortion and contraception could face misdemeanor or felony convictions, compulsory loss of state employment and/or a permanent ban from working with the state, the university said.
The memo references Idaho’s No Public Funds for Abortion Actwhich states that any person, agency, or organization receiving government funds, including public school districts, “may not use those funds to perform or promote abortion, provide abortion counseling, refer abortion, or provide abortion facilities or training to provide for or perform an abortion.”
Any violation of this law may result in a misdemeanor charge, punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 or up to one year in the county jail, or both.
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The law is unclear on what it means to “promote abortion,” but “it is clear that university employees are paid with public funds,” Jodi Walker, the university’s communications director, told VERIFY.
“Employees who engage in their work in a way that promotes abortion could be viewed as pro-abortion promoters,” Walker wrote in an emailed statement. “Although abortion can be discussed as a political issue in the classroom, we strongly encourage classroom staff to remain neutral or they risk violating this law. We support our students and staff and academic freedom, but understand the need to operate within the laws established by our state.”
The university’s guidelines on contraceptives are from another state law This prohibits people, other than licensed physicians or health care providers, from “posting any communication or advertisement for any drug or agent used to produce or facilitate miscarriage or abortion, or to prevent conception.” Anyone who breaks this law is guilty of a crime.
Because this law is unclear on what “contraception” means, and violating it is a crime, the university said it “advises a conservative approach” and would not offer “standard contraception.”
“Contraceptive advice, as well as the provision of contraceptive resources, may be provided by the licensed physicians and their medical staff at Student Health campuses operated by Moscow Family Medicine, our student health provider,” the university wrote in the memo .
The university has told staff they can provide condoms “to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, but not for contraception.”
Read the full memo below:
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https://www.kvue.com/article/news/verify/education-verify/university-of-idaho-guidance-warns-staff-about-promoting-abortion-birth-control/536-49585519-4c48-412e-8251-5216b66fbbe6 The University of Idaho releases a memo on abortion and birth control