Post Row Title IX Safety for Pregnant Students in America

The Biden administration’s efforts to advance protection against gender-based discrimination and harassment on college campuses through the Title IX proposal came just 24 hours before the Supreme Court overturned the constitutional right to abortion.

Of the eight states where abortion has been banned so far, and 22 states where the ban is expected soon, pregnancy rates among college students are expected to increase. Many colleges now have to contend with new questions about how the 1972 Education Amendment Title IX applies to students seeking academic accommodation to access abortions, especially for college students who now have to cross state borders to legally stop pregnancies.

According to a 2013 survey, 20 percent of people said they had an abortion because having a child would interfere with their future opportunities, including education. College-age individuals, 92 percent of whom are under the age of 24, are probably among the population most likely to have an abortion care.

Title IX — Federal law that prohibits gender-based discrimination in all federally funded colleges requires colleges to provide academic accommodation for pregnancy, abortion, and abortion treatment needs. These protections were created so that pregnant students could continue their education without significant disruption.

Recently, the Biden administration proposed additional protection for pregnant students under the new Title IX rule.

How the new Title IX proposal extends protection for pregnant students

On Thursday, the Department of Education unveiled a new proposal for Title IX, which further clarifies the gray areas in existing regulations on discrimination against pregnancy and “pregnancy-related symptoms”. Since pregnant students are more likely to drop out of college, these clarifications will likely play an important role in helping an increasing number of pregnant students continue their education.

Protection against discrimination against pregnant students has been added to the law since 1975, which prohibits gender-based discrimination based on “pregnancy, childbirth, termination of pregnancy, or recovery from there.”

The proposed regulations state that “Title IX regulations relating to pregnancy and related conditions have remained in place for nearly half a century.” “At that time, much was known about what appropriate standards were needed for students and staff to be able to learn and work while they were pregnant or in a pregnancy-related situation.”

The new regulations clarify the types of accommodation students can access due to pregnancy, miscarriage or abortion and provide a clear definition of what falls under “pregnancy-related symptoms” that students can use to request a clinically excused absence from class. Advocates say these clarifications are important because pregnant students and those who have children are often discouraged and discriminated against when trying to continue their education.

“We see student parents leaving all the time because they are told they can’t stay, they have to be withdrawn, accommodation won’t be arranged. They are told they are not part of it, ”said Jessica Lee, a lawyer and director of Pregnant Scholars, a team that educates parents or pregnant students in college about their legal protections.

Under the new proposed regulations, a licensed health-care provider can now sign off on medical leave; Which includes midwives, registered nurses and other non-physicians, where under current regulations students are required to sign-off from a physician. Medical leave can be requested for anything from missing classes to medical appointments, to recovering from pregnancy-related symptoms such as morning sickness, or abortion.

“Schools will have some obligations to provide housing and there will be no barriers to access for abortions for pregnant people,” said Alyssa-Rai McGinn, vice president of investigation at Dan Shore LLC, an organization that advises colleges on the topic. “IX.” Falls under pregnancy-related conditions. “

Creating the concept of new legal criteria for abortion

As abortion access is increasingly limited across the country, many College Title IX offices need to address new questions about what services they are able to provide, including the potential need to travel outside the state for abortion care.

Although the Biden administration’s Title IX proposal will codify explicit protections and entitlements for pregnant students, abortion-related accommodation, which requires a medical note from a physician, will be left to colleges to implement their own Title IX policies.

To ensure that students are aware of what protections and accommodations are available for them during pregnancy, college health care workers need clear communication to ensure that they do not violate state laws about abortion care and rapid contraceptive services. Law, Lee said. This is especially important because some states pass legislation restricting access to emergency contraceptive services or out-of-state abortion referrals, a service provided regularly by many university health care centers.

“People who aren’t lawyers don’t know where the line is between saying‘ what you have here ’and actually saying what’s legal, so people aren’t saying anything just out of fear,” Lee said. “These are all a very short legal standard that health-care providers usually don’t speed up and they really have to rely on general counsel and Title IX compliance officers to let them know where the lines are.”

According to McGinn, this could mean that colleges provide the necessary accommodation for students who need to travel outside the state for abortion and recovery from abortion to continue their education. Title IX does not require that students be given time to travel for abortion.

“Title IX coordinators understand that the protections of Title IX are one level,” said Brett Sokolo, president of the Association of Title IX Administrators. “All the things that are proposed [regulations] Tell them what schools need to do to protect pregnant women – these are things that a school can overcome if it chooses to do so. “

As abortion is becoming increasingly illegal across the country, it may become difficult for students in some states to obtain the academic accommodation-time-location required for abortion. Since Title IX prevents students from being discriminated against based on their choice to have an abortion, it will probably play an important role so that students do not face criticism for their choice to stop their pregnancy.

“As difficult as it is to have an abortion, it is difficult to fly under the radar. While states with easy access may miss only one or two classes, anyone in states with more challenging access may miss a significant amount of time from school and this may further hamper their education or their work. One way that a spotlight shines on them, ”Lee said. “All of this is going to get a lot more public rights at a time when people are feeling less secure about it in public.”

Bellis Feidman, director of educational equity and senior counselor at the National Center for Women’s Law, said that in order for students to feel comfortable disclosing that they are pregnant and seeking an abortion, they must feel that the information is secure.

“It’s really important at the moment that you really make the university a safe place, so you have to let them know that no matter what they want on campus, anyone on campus who says they’ve had an abortion or they’re pregnant and looking for one, that’s a safe place and they’re criminal. It will not be reported to the legal system, ”said Feidman.

As an example of what some colleges are doing, Vanderbilt University in Tennessee, which has an abortion ban that will take effect 30 days after the Supreme Court ruling, has set up a task force to consider how the abortion ban will affect student access. Clinical reproductive care and educational guidance. “We remain steadfast in our commitment to support women’s health and the safety and well-being of our community and to create a supportive and inclusive environment for educational success,” said Daniel Dirmeyer, Chancellor of Vanderbilt.

New protections for pregnant students can still be added

The Biden Administration Title IX proposal may be changed to include additional protection for pregnant or seeking abortion students. The education department did not respond to a request for comment on whether the administration was considering the matter.

The proposed regulations will go through a 60-day comment period where both anti-abortion lawyers and abortion rights advocates are expected to be vocal about their concerns. “It will be interesting to see based on Dobbs [v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization] Whether [in] The final rule is that the Department of Education decides that it wants to go a little further and talk about some of the abortion-related effects. I can predict them potentially do it, ”Sokolo said.

Lee said the Department of Education could add clear language about what protection should be available for college students taking care of abortions.

Advocates are also concerned about the growing capacity of colleges to provide support to parents or pregnant students, who already make up 20 percent of the undergraduate student population. Although Title IX provides basic protection against discrimination based on these issues, parent students are still at high risk of dropping out of school due to increased responsibilities and lack of access to child care.

“We are already in a crisis for pregnant women and parents,” Lee said “I think an extra wave of student parents in need of services can only make that problem worse, because these universities and colleges are not providing enough support. I fear the gap will widen as the population grows. ”

There are concerns about an impending Supreme Court decision that could weaken the federal regulatory powers that could apply to Title IX.

In addition, any progress made in protecting pregnant college students in Title IX risks Congress ignoring them. Congress could enact legislation to protect students’ access to reproductive health services through their college health centers, such as emergency contraception and birth control, which could be important because some states are going to restrict access.

“Title IX advocates are really on the edge of our seats right now,” Lee said.

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