University of Idaho prohibits faculty from promoting abortion, birth control

MOSCOW, Idaho — The University of Idaho recently sent out a letter to its faculty prohibiting them from discussing abortion and birth control at the school.

The memo, sent out by the university’s General Counsel, states that staff cannot promote, perform or counsel in favor of abortion.

It also says employees could be fired or face legal consequences if they dispense “drugs classified as emergency contraception by the FDA, except in the case of rape,” or promote “the prevention of conception.”

This letter comes after Idaho passed laws preventing abortion since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

The University of Idaho issued the following statement regarding the new staff policy:

“The University of Idaho follows all laws. This is a challenging law for many and has real ramifications for individuals in that it calls for individual criminal prosecution. This guidance was sent to help our employees understand the legal significance and possible actions of this new law passed by the Idaho Legislature. The law (IC §18-8705) states that no public funds ‘shall be used in any way to … promote abortion’. The section does not specify what is meant by promoting abortion, however, it is clear that university employees are paid with public funds. Employees engaging in their course of work in a manner that favors abortion could be deemed as promoting abortion. While abortion can be discussed as a policy issue in the classroom, we highly recommend employees in charge of the classroom remain neutral or risk violating this law. We support our students and employees, as well as academic freedom, but understand the need to work within the laws set out by our state.”

Planned Parenthood also responded to the letter, condemning the university’s new policy.

Here is the related statement from Rebecca Gibron, CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Northwest, Hawai’i, Alaska, Indiana, Kentucky:

“We always knew extremists wouldn’t stop at banning abortion; they’d target birth control next. The University of Idaho’s announcement is the canary in the coal mine, an early sign of the larger, coordinated effort to attack birth control access. Across the country, we are seeing lawmakers and extremists saying the quiet part out loud, by eroding contraception access and even calling on the Supreme Court to overturn the constitutional right to birth control.

“Here in Idaho, these attacks have already begun. Earlier this year, Idaho lawmakers said they’d consider banning IUDs and emergency contraception in the 2023 legislative session. And the same day that lawmakers voted to ban abortion, they also rejected a bill that would have made it easier for people in Idaho to access birth control.

“These attacks on birth control are not theoretical. They are already happening. And the University of Idaho’s new policy is just the latest example of extremists and draconian laws threatening to strip us of all control over their reproductive health care.”

The university cited legal concerns and the threat of felony charges for providers under Idaho laws.

READ: Idaho asks judge to rethink temporary block on abortion ban