by Brandon Poulter
Idaho professors and teachers unions are alleging that a state law violates their First Amendment rights by preventing them from teaching pro-abortion viewpoints, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday by the ACLU.
Idaho passed the No Public Funds for Abortion Act in 2021, which prohibits state contracts with abortion providers and bans public employees from promoting abortion, according to Idaho’s legislative website. Public employees who violate the law can be charged with a felony and fired, and professors argue the law has forced them to alter their course modules by taking out entire sections related to abortion due to fear of repercussions, according to the lawsuit.
It’s vital for Idaho’s public universities to have autonomy in fostering vibrant debate on their campuses, free from government interference. Idaho’s abortion censorship law directly undermines that autonomy. #idpol#idleg https://t.co/HXLpjQE2O4
— ACLU of Idaho (@acluidaho) August 8, 2023
“The foundational purpose of our Nation’s public universities is to foster the open and robust exchange of ideas on wide-ranging subjects of social, legal, and political importance,” the lawsuit reads.
The plaintiffs in the lawsuit include University of Idaho and Boise State University professors, the Idaho Federation of Teachers and the University of Idaho Faculty Federation, according to the court document.
The plaintiffs are asking that the law be declared unconstitutional and that the court bar the state from enforcing the law’s alleged speech restrictions, according to the lawsuit.
“In Idaho, the legislature has determined these ideals no longer apply to academic inquiry about abortion—one of today’s most urgent social, moral, and political issues. Idaho’s No Public Funds for Abortion Act (‘NPFAA’) prohibits the use of public funds to ‘promote abortion’ or ‘counsel in favor of abortion’—bans that are simultaneously sweeping and unclear,” the lawsuit reads.
Blaine Conzatti, president of the Idaho Family Policy Center, said that the law does not violate the First Amendment, according to the Associated Press
“The ‘No Public Funds For Abortion Act’ simply does not infringe on academic speech protected by the First Amendment, including classroom discussion on the topics related to abortion,” Conzatti said in a news release, according to the AP.
Idaho Attorney General Raul Labrador, the Idaho Federation of Teachers, the University of Idaho Faculty Federation and the ACLU did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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Brandon Poulter is a reporter at Daily Caller News Foundation.