College Students Return to Campus Without Access to Abortion

College Students Return to Campus Without Access to Abortion

BLOOMINGTON, Indiana (AP) – Before Abby Roth left for her freshman year at the University of Texas at Austin, she had a plan to make sure her college years didn’t include a pregnancy or a child she’s not ready to have. . She would take birth control pills and use a condom with her boyfriend — and if she got pregnant, she would travel out of state to have an abortion.

The music education student from Plano, Texas, had worked out this plan with her mother in anticipation of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling this summer that overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade, triggering a state law that banned virtually all abortions in Texas. Now, in the midst of starting new classes on Monday and joining a sorority, she is also fretting over the new law.

“Texas chooses the baby’s life over the mother’s,” she said. “I don’t want that to happen to me.”

Roth is among students who say new abortion restrictions in states like Texas, Ohio and Indiana are influencing their personal and political behavior as they return to college campuses this fall. The changes are public, energizing the activism of both opponents and advocates of abortion rights, but they are also intimate.

Ohio State University said the decision does not change the services provided by its Student Health Services or its medical center, noting that Ohio has already banned state institutions from performing elective abortions. It also does not affect how the OSU Title IX office handles reports of sexual assault.

But some students say those situations crossed their minds as they contemplated dropping Roe and Ohio’s ban on abortions at the first detectable “fetal heartbeat.” This can be as early as six weeks into the pregnancy, before many people know they are pregnant.

Nikki Mikov, a freshman from the Ohio state of Dayton, said news of the legal changes initially made her nervous that her options would be limited if she became pregnant. But when she returned to campus last week, she said her thoughts were more focused on more immediate things — moving, friends, classes.

Talks about the changing landscape of abortion access seem to have waned since the beginning of the summer, said Brian Roseboro, an Ohio State veteran of Montclair, New Jersey. But the 21-year-old, who is single, said the new law is making him more careful and conscientious about using birth control this year.

“I’m definitely thinking a lot more about it,” Roseboro said.

Ohio University freshman Jamie Miller said he participated in several protests this summer, including one where he gave a speech addressing how supporting abortion rights overrides advocating bodily autonomy for transgender people like him.

More intimately, Miller, 20, said the new limits on abortion influenced the decision he made with his partner to avoid sexual activities that could jeopardize the pregnancy. After years of taking testosterone, going through a pregnancy would not be healthy for him or the child, he said, adding that it would also hurt his education and put him in debt.

“It would be pretty catastrophic in every way of my life,” Miller said.

After Emily Korenman, from Dallas, decided to study business at Indiana University, she was frustrated to learn that her new state has passed new abortion restrictions that take effect Sept. 15 and allow for limited exceptions. The 18-year-old said she hasn’t changed her mind about attending a school she really likes, but she’s not sure what she would do if she got pregnant during college.

“Personally, I don’t know if abortion would be the choice I would make,” Korenman said. “But I would respect anybody’s opinion, you know, whoever the body is, they have the right to make that choice.”

Anti-abortion activists in states like Indiana and Ohio say they are planning to advocate for more campus support for pregnant students now that abortion is no longer an option in most cases.

Students for Life of America campus members say they plan to network with like-minded organizations that support sexual assault survivors and collect baby items for parents in need.

They also hope to further their cause of stopping abortion. They want to build relationships, even with people who have different views on abortion, and “find where we can agree so we can help them and then change other people’s minds” about abortion, Lauren McKean said. , a sophomore at Purdue Fort Wayne University.

Abortion rights advocates also plan on campus outreach.

Cleveland State University sophomore Giana Formica said she got hundreds of condoms through a nonprofit for her campus advocacy group to distribute, and bought an emergency contraceptive just in case someone she knows. need.

“As a queer individual at this stage in my life, I’m probably not going to be in a place where I get pregnant,” she said. “I’m doing this for other people because it’s not something I need right this second.”

Formica said he also expects to face more aggressive disagreement from abortion opponents during campus outreach activities with his chapter on URGE – Unite for Reproductive and Gender Equity. So she’s thinking about how to navigate these conversations with colleagues and where she draws the boundaries to cut through them.

Zoya Gheisar is thinking about how to talk about it too. She leads a student club affiliated with Planned Parenthood at Ohio’s Denison University. On the cusp of the new school year, she was still figuring out what information peer sex educators would provide when talking to first-year students and how to help club members discuss abortion issues with more empathy.

“When we talk as a club, I really try to get away from the rhetoric that can be so polarizing,” said Gheisar, a 22-year-old from Seattle.

Her hope, she said, is to move towards a discussion that recognizes that “this is a truly intimate thing, with real people at its heart and core.”

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For more back-to-school coverage, visit: https://apnews.com/hub/back-to-school

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Franko reported from Columbus, Ohio. Associated Press reporter Patrick Orsagos in Columbus contributed.

Rodgers is a staff member of the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a non-profit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on top secret issues.

The Associated Press education team is supported by Carnegie Corporation of New York. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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