Department of Education Releases Guidelines Protecting Pregnant Students
Earlier this week, the Department of Education (DOE) released new guidance on how to assist pregnant and parenting students in their academic career.
The guidelines, in the form of a Dear Colleague letter and accompanying pamphlet, details how schools should handle the needs of pregnant and parenting students in accordance with Title IX. In the pamphlet, the DOE clarifies that any school cannot require pregnant or parenting students to complete or any paperwork or courses that are not required of other students who take hospital leave. In addition, the pamphlet dictates that schools make reasonable accommodations to pregnant students such as larger desks and elevator use in the same capacity as accommodations made to other students with medical conditions. Though the pamphlet is aimed at secondary schools, the DOE states that the legal principles behind the guidelines also apply to higher education.
Lisa Maatz of American Association of University Women commented on the changes, "Pregnant and parenting students have always been protected under Title IX, but this guidance provides much-needed clarification and concrete steps schools must take to support these students... AAUW is pleased that the Department of Education has made it abundantly clear that schools may not deny mothers and fathers educational opportunities that are provided to other students."
Media Resources: Department of Education 6/25/2013; Department of Education Press Office 6/25/2013; Education Week 6/25/25013; "Supporting the Academic Success of Pregnant and Parenting Students" Pamphlet 6/25/2013
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8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .