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University of Idaho Advised To Stop Providing Birth Control Thanks To State Abortion Ban

Since the moment we learned the Supreme Court was going to overturn Roe v. Wade (and long before that, actually), abortion rights activists warned that the anti-abortion movement was never going to stop at just banning abortion. Rather, it was just the first step in an all-out war on a whole host of other human and civil rights.

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That war is advancing at the University of Idaho, where students and staff have reportedly been told the school should stop making contraception available, so as not to violate a 50-year-old penal code.

Idaho is one of many states to have enacted a trigger ban on abortions since the fall of Roe v. Wade. In addition to trigger law, which was passed in 2020 and took effect in August 2022, the state also has a penal code still on the books from 1972 that makes it a felony to provide or assist with an abortion, as well as “facilitating miscarriage.”

Even more, “advertising” abortion is also a felony, as is advertising “other means for preventing conception.”

An email was reportedly sent to university students and staff, outlining the school counsel’s advice for complying with this law. The email was posted to Reddit (it was later deleted but reposted in the comments and also a copy was obtained by the Washington Post), and it states that since the language in the code is “unclear and untested in the courts” and “since violation is considered a felony, we are advising a conservative approach here, that the university not provide standard birth control itself.”

Additionally, so as not to violate the ban on “advertising” abortion and contraception, university employees were advised not to counsel or otherwise talk about these things in any way that is not entirely neutral. These look to be advisements, not actual orders, but employees are told that violation of the guidelines could potentially lead to consequences including felony and misdemeanor convictions as well as termination of their state employment and “Permanent bar from future state employment”

The email also include one ridiculous provision stating that condoms can be provided to students, but only “for the purpose of helping prevent the spread of STDs and not for purposes of birth control.” Please no one try to explain to me how that would work.

As a reminder, 195 House Republicans recently voted against a bill that would offer federal protections for contraception. Many of those lawmakers tried to frame the bill as unnecessary, as if access to contraception would never be compromised. That was always naive at best and at worst (and most likely), an outright lie.

(image: Emily Elconin/Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.