Frequently Asked Questions

Reproductive Health Frequently Asked Questions

These answers are not intended as legal advice. For legal advice particular to an individual situation, please consult a licensed attorney of your choosing.

What did the Dobbs case decide?

It overruled Roe v. Wade, a 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision concluding that a woman’s right to an abortion was protected by the U.S. Constitution.

By overruling Roe, the Dobbs case removed federal protections for abortion access. Now, every state is free to prohibit or permit abortion services under its own laws.

Where can I read the Dobbs decision?

https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/21pdf/19-1392_6j37.pdf

Is abortion now illegal nationwide?

Some states continue to allow abortions; others ban abortions completely; and still others ban abortions except under certain circumstances.

In Texas, is abortion now completely illegal?

It is mostly illegal. As of July 1, 2022, abortion is illegal in Texas except:

  • To save the pregnant person's life; or
  • To prevent serious risk to the pregnant person's physical health.
If a student tells me they are experiencing an unintended pregnancy, what should I do?

Thank the student for confiding in you and offer referrals for support. They can receive 24/7 guidance and support by calling 713-348-3311 to speak with someone in the Wellbeing and Counseling Center or a navigator in the SAFE office. Students want a consultation with a medical provider can also schedule an appointment with Student Health Services by calling 713-348-4966. All of the offices can also provide the student with off-campus referrals, such as Planned Parenthood and Baylor Teen Clinic.

Students who need accommodations due to pregnancy and all pregnancy related complications, birth, and parenting may ask for assistance with receiving accommodations and making a proactive plan through the Office Access, Equity and Equal Opportunity (titleix@rice.edu). You can also find more information on their website. The student will be assigned a navigator or advisor who assist the student in walking through the accommodation process.

While specific accommodations vary from person to person, some examples of accommodations include:

  • Protected medical leaves;
  • Longer breaks during class/work, as needed;
  • Rescheduling tests or exams;
  • Submitting work after a missed deadline;
  • Providing alternatives to make up missed work;
  • Excused absences for parenting students (both male and female) who need to take their children to medical appointments or to take care of their sick children.

Depending on the structure of programs and the needs of the student, other forms of accommodations may be available.

If an employee tells me they are experiencing an unintended pregnancy, what should I do?

Thank the employee for confiding in you, share with them that you will keep their information private, and offer a referral for support.

Employees can contact the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) to access free services on a variety of different topics. EAP also offers counseling sessions with a licensed mental health professional, WorkLife referrals, and more. EAP services are available 24/7 at 713-500-3327 or 800-346-3549. Employees may access the EAP online portal (username: owls; password: owls) to take advantage of EAP resources.

Employees who need an accommodation due to o pregnancy and all pregnancy-related complications, birth, and parenting should first connect with their supervisor to meet about what their supervisor can offer regarding accommodations with scheduling, time off, and reasonable adjustments to the work environment, such as physical demands of the role.

The supervisor and employee may also contact human resources to speak with their representative about types of leaves and time off and to learn more information about the Family Medical Leave Act and Part-Time Disability. Other forms of benefits for employees can be found on the benefits webpage under the Stay Healthy-Wellness at Rice Tab.

For more information, please visit Human Resources Monday through Friday, 9:00 am until 4:00 pm on the third floor of Cambridge, call the office by dialing 713-348-2514 or emailing people@rice.edu to make an appointment, or visit this website for the policy.

Employees seeking more information on this topic may refer to:

Back-up family care, for children or elderly family members, is available with Bright Horizons. More information is available on their web site:

Brighthorizons.com/rice

Employer user name: Rice I Password: backup7

Laction rooms are available on campus:

Are abortion services covered for Rice employees who are enrolled in one of Rice's medical plans?

For Rice employees who have Rice employee medical insurance, abortion services are covered as long as it is in a location where those services are permitted by state and local laws. If services are not available from a network provider within 100 miles of a covered person’s home, the insurance plan may cover expenses related to travel.

To obtain a travel and lodging claim form, a covered person should call the Aetna Concierge Team at 1-800-905-7670.

If a person in Texas receives an abortion from a physician, can that person be criminally prosecuted?

No. In Texas, only the persons who perform, induce, or attempt an unlawful abortion can be criminally prosecuted, but the person who receives the abortion cannot.

What about abortion medication that can be ordered by mail? In Texas, is it illegal to take that medication to cause an abortion?

No. It is illegal for a person to provide abortion medication to a person in Texas. It is not illegal for a person to take abortion medication in Texas

What about Plan B medication, the “morning after” pill? In Texas, is it legal to take Plan B?

Yes, it is legal to take Plan B medication in Texas. Levonogestrel, marketed under “Plan B” and other brand names, does not cause abortion. It prevents pregnancy from occurring.

What is Plan B, and do I need a doctor’s prescription to take Plan B medication?

Plan B is a form of emergency contraception designed to be taken up to 72 hours after having had unprotected sexual contact. Resources to learn more about Plan B can be found here and here.

A doctor’s prescription is not needed to take Plan B, which is sold over the counter at pharmacies. You do not need a prescription to purchase it.

What about birth control pills? In Texas, is it illegal to take them?

No, it is not illegal to take them. Birth control pills do not cause abortion; instead, they greatly decrease the chance that pregnancy will occur.

In which states does abortion remain legal?

These websites explain each state’s existing abortion laws:

In Texas, is it illegal to help someone get an abortion?

In Texas, it is a felony to intentionally cause, aid, or assist a person to perform an abortion.

In addition, in civil court, a person may sue any person who (a) performs or induces an unlawful abortion, or (b) knowingly aids or abets an unlawful abortion, including paying for or reimbursing the costs of an abortion through insurance or otherwise, or (c) intends to engage in (a) or (b). There is a pending lawsuit in Texas that will decide whether this law can be enforced.

I have a friend who is paying another friend’s travel expenses to go to New York and get an abortion. The friend who is paying – are they violating Texas law?

A Texas law allows a person to sue any person - in civil court - who (a) performs or induces an unlawful abortion, or (b) knowingly aids or abets an unlawful abortion, including paying for or reimbursing the costs of an abortion through insurance or otherwise, or (c) intends to engage in (a) or (b). There is a pending lawsuit in Texas that will decide whether this law can be enforced for abortions that occur in Texas. Also, many legal commentators believe this Texas law cannot be enforced in a situation where the abortion services are performed outside Texas.

Can Texas voters reinstate a woman’s right to an abortion?

In the upcoming Texas legislative session, it is certainly possible for a bill to be introduced that restores the right of persons to receive abortion services.

If I have questions about my (or someone else’s) legal rights to receive abortion services, where can I go?

The State Bar of Texas offers referrals to low-cost civil legal services for persons that need them. For a listing of legal service providers by county, see the Referral Directory for Low-Income Texans.

If you do not qualify for low-cost or free legal aid, contact the Lawyer Referral Information Service at 800-252-9690. Through the Lawyer Referral Information Service at 800-252-9690, a person may obtain a 30-minute consultation with an attorney for $20. At the end of the consultation, the attorney and individual can discuss possible representation and price structure.

If someone sues me in a Texas court for helping a friend obtain an abortion in another state (where it’s legal), how can I get legal assistance?

The State Bar of Texas offers referrals to low-cost civil legal services for persons that need them. For a listing of legal service providers by county, see the Referral Directory for Low-Income Texans.

If you do not qualify for low-cost or free legal aid, contact the Lawyer Referral Information Service at 800-252-9690. Through the Lawyer Referral Information Service at 800-252-9690, a person may obtain a 30-minute consultation with an attorney for $20. At the end of the consultation, the attorney and individual can discuss possible representation and price structure.

Is there a national directory of abortion service providers?

There are likely several directories. One is: https://www.abortionfinder.org/

What services does Rice provide to support students and employees who are pregnant or parenting?

Rice University is committed to creating a welcoming, accessible, and inclusive environment for pregnant and parenting students and employees. Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits discrimination based on sex in education programs or activities including academic, educational, extracurricular, athletic and other programs or activities of schools. This prohibition includes discrimination against pregnant and parenting students and employees. Students and employees may request reasonable accommodations as a result of pregnancy, childbirth or related conditions.

Students wishing to receive guidance and support can call 713-348-3311 to speak with a wellbeing advisor or a navigator in the SAFE office.

Are surgical procedures such as vasectomies covered for Rice employees who are enrolled in one of Rice's medical plans?

Yes, For Rice employees who have Rice employee medical insurance, surgical procedures that prevent pregnancy, such as vasectomies, are covered.For detailed information about these covered services, call the toll-free number on the back of your Aetna I.D. card.

I hear that some universities are warning their professors not to discuss reproductive health issues, including abortion, in class. Is Rice issuing that same warning to its students and faculty?

No. It is always important to focus classroom discussions on issues that are germane to the academic content being covered, and to do so in a civilized, respectful way. At the same time, the Rice community prides itself on championing the spirit of inquiry, imagination, and individual action, and Texas law does not prevent our students or faculty members from voicing their individual, respectful views on contested social issues.