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University staff warned they could be fired for providing birth control

contraceptive abortion in idaho
University of Idaho Administration Building. (Photo by: Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

University of Idaho employees are being warned they could be fired if they recommend students for abortions or even offer them birth control, according to a new memo issued in the wake of Idaho’s new near-total abortion ban.

They are also warned to “remain neutral” when discussing abortion. “Academic freedom is not a defense against breaking the law,” the memorandum says.

The memorandum, issued on Friday and obtained by Idaho Press, which was written by the Office of the General Counsel of the University of Idaho and includes a long list of recommendations for university employees aimed at keeping them safe from Idaho’s anti-abortion statutes. The state’s near-total ban, which went into effect in late August, bans abortions except in cases where a pregnant person’s life is at risk, or in cases of rape or incest (provided the court has been informed). policeman).

People who violated Idaho’s abortion laws could be found guilty of a felony. They could also be laid off and blocked from any future employment with the state, according to the memo.

“In this new and evolving legal landscape, it is not yet clear how these laws will be applied,” the memo says. “Accordingly, the university and its employees must be aware of the potential risks and penalties associated with conduct that may be perceived as violating laws.”

According to the memo, university employees may also not “advise in favor of abortion,” form contracts with abortion providers, or dispense emergency contraception such as Plan B.

Because Idaho law now also prohibits people from assisting in “prevention of conception,” a decidedly vague term, the University of Idaho interprets it to refer to birth control as well.

“Since rape is considered a felony, we recommend a conservative approach here, that the university not provide standard birth control methods,” the memo says.

The memorandum specifies that health workers at student health centers may still offer “birth control advice, as well as provide the means of birth control.” University employees may also “provide condoms for the purpose of helping prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and not for birth control.”

The memo also advises employees to be careful in classroom discussions. If employees are thinking of promoting abortion in those discussions, they could find themselves in legal trouble.

“Faculty or others in charge of classroom topics and discussions must remain neutral on the topic and may not conduct or participate in discussions that violate these prohibitions without risking prosecution,” the memo reads. .

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