Since the Supreme Court overturned Roe last summer, some states have been weighing and enacting dangerously restrictive abortion bans. Just last week, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a ban outlawing abortions in the state after six weeks gestation (despite the fact that nearly a third of pregnant people don’t know they’re pregnant until the six-week mark) and forcing people who’ve been raped to provide documentation stating as such if they want access to reproductive health care.
Young people, in particular, are taking note of these egregious policies. According to a new poll from consulting and research firm Gallup, 72% of current college students feel reproductive health laws (in the states in which their schools are located) are at least “somewhat important” to their decision on whether to re-enroll. Future college students are paying attention, too: Sixty percent of adults aged 18 to 59 (who aren’t currently enrolled) said state policies are “somewhat important” to their decision to enroll in a given school, as well. Among people who are factoring state laws into their decisions, 81% of currently enrolled and 85% of unenrolled people said they’d prefer to go to school in a state with “greater access” to reproductive health services.
While everyone benefits from access to abortion, young people do especially: According to data from the Kaiser Family Foundation, people 29 or younger received 65% of legal abortions in the US in 2020. This could be part of why abortion access is important to people of all political affiliations: The poll found that, among currently enrolled students who think state policies are important, 86% of Democrats, 85% of independents, and 65% of Republicans prefer states that have less restrictive abortion laws.
Abortion bans could potentially have a devastating effect on the state of education in the US. A report on the new findings says, “The potential [for strict abortion laws] to discourage enrollment is especially great in terms of women and young adults—both of whom are disproportionately represented on college campuses compared with male students and those older than 24.”
The bottom line: Overturning Roe didn’t just make it much harder to access a medical procedure that can be life-saving. For pretty much anyone who can get pregnant (and many who can’t), it changed the way they think about their futures on the whole.