Idaho's Abortion Ban Has Ripple Effect on Birth Control

University of Idaho might have to stop providing contraception
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 27, 2022 3:00 AM CDT
University Might Have to Stop Providing Birth Control to Students
Stock photo   (Getty Images / Rattankun Thongbun)

Idaho's near-total abortion ban could have consequences beyond abortion: In new guidance regarding the ban issued Friday, the University of Idaho's general counsel said the school should no longer make birth control available to students. The law's language is "unclear and untested," the message says, and as such, “we are advising a conservative approach here, that the university not provide standard birth control itself." Condoms, for example, could still be provided as a means of preventing the transmission of sexually transmitted infections, but not for contraceptive purposes. The Washington Post calls this "a rare move for a state university," and adds that in a 2020 survey, nearly every university that provided clinical sexual health services offered students birth control.

The memo also warned university employees not to counsel any students regarding reproductive health, the Idaho Capital Sun reports. "This is a challenging law for many and has real ramifications for individuals in that it calls for individual criminal prosecution," a university spokesperson says. "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." One employee who spoke to the Post says she fears for resident hall advisers trying to help sexually active students in their dorms: "Now it’s the kind of thing that could get them fired and charged with a felony." (More birth control stories.)

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