University of Idaho warned its staff that employees could be fired or charged with misdemeanor or felony convictions if they decide to discuss or promote abortion during their job.
An email was sent to employees stating that staff could no longer provide birth control pills, reproductive health services or counseling on abortion because of the state’s ban on abortions.
The memo follows Idaho’s No Public Funds Abortion Act made in May 2021 regarding how state funds cannot be used to promote or perform abortions. It also prohibits public school tutiton fees from being used to pay for abortions.
“This is a challenging law for many and has real ramifications for individuals in that it calls for individual criminal prosecution. Employees engaging in their course of work in a manner that favors abortion could be deemed as promoting abortion,” Jodi Walker, spokesperson for the University of Idaho, wrote in an email according to Idaho Capital Sun.
He added: “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.”
The email caused a nationwide reaction on social media about how this new rule violates people’s rights to the first amendment and also takes full control over their reproductive health care.
“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,” said Rebecca Gibron, CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Northwest, in a statement. “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.”