The federal law prohibiting sex discrimination also bars 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 U.S. Education Department said Tuesday.
The guidance, which clarifies the longstanding rules for federal Title IX funding that virtually all colleges and universities receive, comes as several states have moved to ban or greatly limit abortion. The federal insistence on compliance with the Title IX regulations appears to be in conflict with some state policies.
The University of Idaho, for example, issued a memo last month telling its employees not to provide reproductive health counseling or contraception in order to comply with a state law.
President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris singled out the University of Idaho during a public meeting of the White House Reproductive Rights Task Force on Tuesday.
“They told university staff they could get in trouble just for talking or telling students about birth control,” Biden said, referencing the memo. “Folks, what century are we in?”
Idaho is among the 13 states where nearly all abortions are illegal following the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in June that removed the nationwide right to an abortion, according to the reproductive rights policy research organization Guttmacher Institute.
The Idaho Supreme Court convenes on Thursday to hear oral arguments on the merits of three Idaho abortion laws.
The federal high court ruling “has sown fear and confusion on our college campuses,” Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said at the task force meeting.
Tuesday’s guidance was intended “to remind schools of their obligations under Title IX,” he added. Read more