The Sick Reason Texas Teachers Are Suing for Right to Punish Students

Professors at the University of Texas at Austin are joining in on Texas’s anti-abortion legal efforts, this time pressing back on federal privacy mandates so that they can punish students who have undergone the medical procedure.

In an amended complaint released earlier this month, university professors Daniel Bonevac and John Hatfield claim that the federal government’s Title IX policies—which protect against sexual or gender-based discrimination in education—are “flawed from top to bottom” and overstep the state’s “sovereign interest.” According to the filing, that includes limiting schools’ abilities to punish students who take time off to get an abortion, even if that abortion is performed out of state, and therefore infringing on the state’s abortion prohibitions.

“Plaintiffs Hatfield and Bonevac do not intend to accommodate student absences from class to obtain abortions—including illegal abortions and purely elective abortions that are not medically required. Nor will Plaintiffs Hatfield and Bonevac hire a teaching assistant who has violated the abortion laws of Texas or the federal-law prohibitions on the shipment or receipt of abortion pills and abortion-related paraphernalia,” the complaint reads.

The professors also bemoaned the requirement that schools treat abortions as “any other temporary medical condition” or else forgo their federal funding.

The lawsuit was originally filed in April by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and America First Legal, a Trump-aligned nonprofit led by former Donald Trump adviser Stephen Miller. But the anti-abortion details were crammed into a sprawling 66-page complaint that spends far more time framing Title IX as a pronoun-fueled bathroom battle, with Miller claiming that the rule would “force girls in every public school in America to share restrooms, locker rooms, and private facilities with men.”

“Texas is asking the court to put an immediate stop to Biden’s outrageous, unlawful assault on women’s rights,” Paxton said in a statement. “Biden cannot violate the Constitution to subvert Title IX protections for women in his effort to accommodate the fringe demands of ‘transgender’ movement activists.”

Texas has enacted some of the strictest abortion laws in the nation since Roe v. Wade was overturned in 2022, banning all abortions except in the event of a severe medical emergency—though even that exception isn’t a given. Last year, Dallas mother Kate Cox sued the state over its post-Roe emergency clause after learning that her fetus had a fatal genetic condition that would have jeopardized her health and future fertility if carried to term. But despite qualifying for the procedure under Texas law, a district judge’s ruling allowing her to receive an abortion was effectively overridden by Paxton, who not only called for the Supreme Court to intervene in the case but also promised to convict abortion providers with felony charges, even if the procedure was court-ordered.

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Kim browne

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