The University of Idaho has warned its employees not to discuss contraception with students or to provide reproductive health counseling — at the risk of being fired and charged with a felony. Since the Supreme Court’s ruling in June that overturned federal abortion rights under Roe v. Wade, Idaho has seen nearly all abortions outlawed under a so-called trigger law passed in 2019. Last week, the university’s general counsel wrote in an email to faculty and staff that officials will also enforce a law dating back to 1867 — when Idaho was a territory — making it a crime to advertise abortion services and birth control. Civil liberties groups have condemned the guidance as a violation of free speech on campus. Adam Steinbaugh is an attorney with the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression.
Adam Steinbaugh: “The First Amendment protects the rights of university faculty at public universities and colleges to discuss matters in class that are relevant to the class. The First Amendment protects that. And if you were telling them that if they are seen to promote abortion in their class or academic work, they could wind up in handcuffs, that’s a First Amendment problem.”