PORTLAND, Ore. — The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade is now impacting the nation’s education system. According to a new study, young women are altering their college plans based on which states are protecting or restricting the right to choose.
A team from Portland State and the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine has found that applications to schools in states restricting access to abortions have dropped since the court’s ruling. Overall, the number of female applicants to colleges and universities in these states has fallen by one percent so far.
Moreover, results show young women heading off to college now appear more likely to apply to institutions in states that have chosen to uphold abortion laws as they were written prior to the end of Roe v. Wade.
“Using the Common Data Sets from 71 of the top 100 institutions in the United States spanning 27 states from academic years 2018–2022, we found that there was a nearly one percentage point relative decrease in the share of female undergraduate applicants to institutions in ban states compared with states in which abortion remained legal,” study authors write in the journal Economics Letters.
“This suggests that undergraduate applicants are sensitive to state reproductive health policies and that this may impact the demographic composition of colleges and the future labor pool of the affected states.”
Roe v. Wade Overturned: What Does It Mean?
Roe v. Wade was a landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision that established a constitutional right to abortion. With Roe overturned, that nationwide right no longer exists.
This means that individual states are now free to set their own abortion laws. Some states have already passed laws that ban abortion outright, while others have severely restricted access to the procedure. It is estimated that up to half of all states could ban abortion completely in the coming months.
Prior studies argue that the ruling will disproportionately affect low-income women and women of color, who are more likely to live in states with restrictive abortion laws.
What Does Overturning Roe v. Wade Mean for Women?
For women in states with abortion bans, overturning Roe v. Wade means that they will no longer be able to access safe and legal abortion services in their state. Women who need abortions will have to travel out of state to obtain the procedure, which can be expensive and time-consuming.
For many women, traveling out of state for an abortion simply may not be possible. This is especially true for low-income women and women who live in rural areas.
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