Professors’ Lawsuit Says Idaho Anti-Abortion Law Violates Free Speech Rights

A group of professors, including two philosophy professors, along with the Idaho Federation of Teachers and the University of Idaho Faculty Federation, have filed a lawsuit challenging a 2021 state law that prevents state funds from being used to “procure, counsel in favor, refer to or perform an abortion”.

They say that the breadth and vagueness of the law put them at risk of prosecution and imprisonment simply for teaching about abortion.

image by Akatre for Centre Pompidou

The professors include philosophers Aleta Quinn and Casey Johnson of the University of Idaho, as well as their colleagues Markie McBrayer (Political Science), Zachary Turpin (English), Katie Blevins (Journalism), and Boise State University’s Heather Witt (Social Work).

The professors are being represented by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which says:

At Idaho’s public universities, professors who teach, discuss, or write about abortion may now face up to 14 years of imprisonment under Idaho’s abortion censorship law, the No Public Funds for Abortion Act (NPFAA). The law, which prohibits the use of any public funds to “promote” or “counsel in favor of abortion,” has shut down academic inquiry about abortion—one of today’s most urgent social, moral, and political issues—across university classrooms and campuses in the state…

To avoid jail time as well as ruinous fines and other penalties, professors across academic disciplines have been forced to strip abortion-related content from their curricula, instruction, and scholarship or risk their livelihoods. A philosophy professor at the University of Idaho removed a module on human reproduction, which introduced difficult ethical questions about abortion, from a bioethics course. A political science professor at the same university no longer lectures on abortion public policy. And a social work professor at Boise State University has stopped assigning their own scholarship to their students on how international ethics principles for social workers undergird arguments made by abortion rights advocates.

Here’s the lawsuit:

You can learn more about the lawsuit here and here.


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