“What century are we in? »

The federal law prohibiting sex discrimination also prohibits colleges and universities from denying counseling and other services to abortion patients and contraception to all students — even in states where abortion is now severely restricted, the US Department of Education.

The guidelines, which clarify longstanding federal Title IX funding rules that virtually all colleges and universities receive, come as several states have moved to ban or severely limit abortion. The federal insistence on compliance with Title IX regulations appears to conflict with some state policies.

The University of Idaho, for example, issued a memo last month telling its employees not to provide reproductive health or contraceptive counseling in order to comply with a state law.

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President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris honored the University of Idaho during a public meeting of the White House Reproductive Rights Task Force on Tuesday.

“They told college staff that they could get in trouble just for talking or talking to students about contraception, Biden said, referring to the memo. “Friends, what century are we in?”

Idaho is among 13 states where nearly all abortions are illegal following the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June that struck down the nation’s right to abortion, according to the policy research organization in Reproductive Rights Matters Guttmacher Institute.

The Idaho Supreme Court convenes Thursday to hear oral arguments on the merits of three Idaho abortion laws.

The Federal High Court ruling “has brought fear and confusion to our college campuses,” Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said at the task force meeting.

Tuesday’s guidance was “to remind schools of their obligations under Title IX,” he added.

The department’s civil rights office determined in June that a Utah community college violated Title IX by failing to accommodate a pregnant student and encouraging the student to drop a course because she was pregnant.

The University of Idaho memo said university employees could not provide patients with birth control or emergency contraception. The document referred to a 2021 law that prohibits public funding to “procure, counsel, recommend, or perform an abortion.”

Standard birth control can still be dispensed at student health facilities, whose workers are not employed by the university, according to the memo.

A university spokeswoman did not immediately return an email seeking comment on the Department of Education’s guidance and remarks from Biden and Harris.

The abortion ban has affected other health services, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters on Tuesday. Women have been denied prescriptions to treat miscarriages or conditions like arthritis and there are “threats to contraception”, including for students, Jean-Pierre said.

Harris noted that 19th century laws banning abortion in Arizona and Wisconsin recently went into effect.

Doctors testify

The White House task force outlined some of the dire consequences of state abortion bans.

In Wisconsin, the abortion ban sends some patients to Minnesota and Illinois and leaves many people who need care without access, said Dr. Kristin Lyerly, OB-GYN of Green Bay.

And that has had a chilling effect on abortion providers, who can now only perform an abortion when the mother’s life is in danger. But even the judgment required in that decision could scare off doctors from performing a medically necessary procedure, she said.

“Pregnant women don’t have a warning light that comes on when they’ve crossed that threshold,” she said. “In places like Sheboygan County, where the district attorney has specifically said he will sue doctors, can I count on him to trust my clinical judgment?”

Georgia OB-GYN Dr. Nisha Verma told the task force that she has had to turn away patients with high-risk pregnancies or fetal abnormalities since that state’s six-week ban went into effect.

“Imagine looking someone in the eye and saying, ‘I have all the skills and all the tools to help you. But our state politicians told me I couldn’t,” she said.

Call to Congress

Biden, Harris and Jean-Pierre have all urged Congress to pass legislation codifying a national right to abortion.

“If there was a national law passed in the United States Congress to protect reproductive care, the so-called (state) leaders couldn’t ban abortion,” Harris said. “They couldn’t criminalize the suppliers. They could not limit access to contraception.

Biden added that Republicans in Congress would call for a nationwide abortion ban, alluding to Republican South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham’s bill introduced last month to enact such a ban.

Ohio Capital Journal is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Ohio Capital Journal maintains editorial independence. Contact editor David DeWitt with any questions: [email protected] Follow Ohio Capital Journal on Facebook and Twitter.

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