Organization runs ads in Idaho’s college town to promote birth control and access to abortion

Digital billboards roam Moscow next week with various messages from a national non-profit organization on reproductive health.

“Be conservative. Use birth control.

“Pregnant? You still have a choice.

“They don’t want you to know. You can still get abortion pills by mail.

A particular ad features a photo of Russian President Vladimir Putin, with the message “Moscow: It’s a Slippery Slope”, referring to Russia’s capital.

Like the fallout of a University of Idaho abortion memo continue with national coveragea White House response and reports from angry faculty membersMayday Health is rolling out billboards in college town next week to let students and residents know they can still access abortion pills, emergency contraception and birth control.

The university’s general counsel sent the memo to all employees on September 23. She wore a law passed in the 2021 session of the Idaho Legislature called the Public Abortion Funds Ban Act. The University of Idaho and other public schools in Idaho are subject to the law because they are state-funded institutions.

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The memo advised all employees to comply by not promoting, advising or referring anyone for an abortion, and went further to say that the university also could not dispense contraception, with the exception of condoms, which may be provided to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. diseases.

According to the memo, standard birth control prescriptions can still be issued by workers at student health facilities, which are administered by Moscow Family Health and not the university.

Organization says it’s not trying to antagonize the University of Idaho

Mayday Health is a nonprofit health education organization with a website that provides information on getting abortion pills by mail and directs people to medical and legal help lines, especially if the individual lives in an abortion-free state, which includes Idaho.

The organization formed in May in New York on the day the United States Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade was leaked to Politico. Since then, about 35 million people have accessed the Mayday Health website, according to the organization’s records.

The organization does not prescribe or dispense any drugs, said co-founder Sam Koppelman. It serves solely as an educational resource to make sure people know that abortion pills are available in all 50 states and to help people make their own decision, he said.

A Mayday Health digital ad that will be displayed in Moscow next week. (Courtesy of Mayday Health)

Idaho is only the second state where the organization has launched a digital signage campaign — Koppelman said the first was in Jackson, Mississippi, where the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case originated.

“We try to stay on top of any encroachments on abortion rights, as well as the right to free speech on reproductive health, so we saw (the memo) right away and kept a eye on it ever since,” Koppelman said.

Kaori Sueyoshi, head of strategy at Mayday, said billboards are one of the most visible advertising methods, but they will also roll out Google, Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook ads to reach more people.

“Our hope is that at this time, when this type of law aims to chill free speech around health care options, we want to be able to stand up and fight for what we know is right. “said Sueyoshi.

The organization’s website does not track any data with individually identifying information, Sueyoshi said, and it includes a “quick exit” button at the top for the user’s personal security.

Sueyoshi said the intent was not to antagonize the University of Idaho, which she says is only trying to protect students and staff under applicable laws. Persons who break the law face conviction for a misdemeanor or felony and may be required to repay funds used in violation of the law. They can also be fired and permanently barred from employment with the state.

“Our strategy is that we believe this is a free speech zone and we want students, staff and residents to not be afraid to get this information that we feel they need. deserve to have,” she said.

Student government drafts resolution asking Idaho Legislature to fix parts of free speech law

The Student Associates of the University of Idaho, the government student body organization, this week drafted a resolution declaring their opposition to the guidelines in the memo and calling on the Idaho Legislature to repeal the sections of the No Public Funds for Abortion Act which are “related to speech, advice, referrals and use of tuition and fees paid by the private sector.

ASUI senator pro tempore Martha Smith said the resolution was not aimed at the university or its general counsel, but specifically at the Legislative Assembly. Student government members will vote on the resolution at their next meeting on October 5.

“I consider myself an advocate in this situation because I’m not a school employee, and I think a lot of teachers are very coy about what they’re allowed to say right now,” Smith said. . “Almost every teacher I spoke to said, ‘Oh, well, I saw that memo.’ There’s not a lot of dialogue coming from the teachers right now.

As she spoke to pro-abortion-rights students and those who are anti-abortion, Smith said both sides feared they could not discuss the topic in class without fear of consequences.

“The topic of abortion comes up, and the idea that teachers should stay neutral about it is an impossible question in my opinion, because – find someone neutral about abortion,” she said. declared.

Smith told The Sun that she didn’t see the digital billboards on Friday afternoon, but was glad to know it was happening.

“Anything that will allow students to understand what is legally within the limits of what they need should be welcomed and encouraged on a college campus,” Smith said.

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