On Tuesday, Kansas voters rejected a proposed state constitutional amendment that would have taken away abortion rights by a resounding 59% to 41%. While the breakdown of voters in that election is still being scrutinized, analysts believe the margin was largely fueled by young voters and women galvanized by the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision to overturn Roe V. Wade.
The legal status of abortion is changing daily since the landmark decision on June 24 which threw the abortion fight to individual states. Since, some states have banned abortion outright with “trigger laws” that have been on their books for decades and suddenly relevant with Roe’s reversal. Elsewhere, restrictive abortion laws are working their way through state legislatures.
Poets&Quants previously reported that the abortion debate is already impacting student decisions on where to go to college, and a new survey from BestColleges reiterates the trend. The survey found that 59% of prospective college students oppose the overturning of Roe V. Wade, the landmark abortion decision, and those students want to attend college in states that protect a woman’s right to choose.
“The overwhelming majority of current and prospective students (75%) say they think colleges should support students in accessing reproductive health services, including abortion,” reads the BestColleges survey report, released August 4. “Only 15% disagree, while a tenth of students (10%) are unsure. Even those who support the Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade agree that colleges should support students in obtaining access to abortion (70%).”
PICKING SCHOOLS BASED ON STATES’ ABORTION LAWS
BestColleges, a college ranking and resource platform, surveyed current or prospective college students between the ages of 16 and 65. Respondents were either currently enrolled or were planning to enroll within 12 months to an associate, bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral, or professional degree program.
Of the 1,000 respondents, 43% of current undergrads and 42% of current graduate students say the Supreme Court’s June 24 decision will impact their decision to remain at their current institution; 45% and 40% respectively say it will have no impact.
Of prospective students, 39% of undergrads and 35% of graduate students say the decision will impact their decision to stay while 50% and 49% respectively say it won’t.
SUPPORT FOR ABORTION RIGHTS BY GENDER, RACE, AND AGE
Accounting for all respondents, 59% oppose the court’s decision, 27% support it, and 10% are unsure. More than two-thirds, 69%, support a woman’s right to choose an abortion while 16% do not; 15% were undecided.
But, when broken down by gender, race, age, and identity preferences, the numbers – perhaps unsurprisingly – show more divergence.
- By gender, 67% of women say they oppose the court’s decision compared to 48% of men. Women are also significantly more likely to support a woman’s right to choose abortion than are men by a margin of 73% to 64%.
- 78% of LGBTQ+ support a woman’s right to choose compared to 67% of students who identify as straight.
- By race, current BIPOC undergrads (51%) and prospective undergrads (43%) are more likely than white undergrads (35%) and prospective undergrads (34%) to say the court’s decision will impact their decision to stay at their current institution.
- Millennial undergrads (ages 26 to 41) are also more likely than Generation Z (ages 16 to 25) to say the decision will impact whether they stay at their current schools. Some 58% of millennials say they may move schools versus 37% of Gen Z.
57% WANT TO ATTEND SCHOOL IN STATES THAT PROTECT ABORTION RIGHTS
Of all respondents, more than half (57%) say they want to attend college in states that protect a woman’s right to abortion, while 17% do not. Even among the students and prospective students who approved of the Supreme Court’s decision (27%), 46% of them still say they want to attend schools where states protect abortion rights.
Further, 37% of current students, both graduate and undergraduate, say they would have chosen a school in a different state had they known about the Supreme Court’s decision beforehand. Millennials were significantly more likely to answer this way than Generation Z at a margin of 53% to 31% respectively.
Results of the BestColleges survey are strikingly similar to a recent report by Intelligent.com, an online magazine centered around helping students make informed choices about their college education. Last month, Intelligent surveyed 1,000 current college students in states where abortion is currently or will soon be illegal to gauge how they were reacting to the Supreme Court’s decision.
That survey found that 20% of such students “definitely” plan to transfer to schools in states where abortion is legal, and 25% are considering it. Further, 75% of pro-choice college students are “very concerned” that a nationwide ban will soon follow.
You can read the full Best Colleges survey report here.