Abortion and College Admissions: Roe v. Wade Decision Makes Students Reconsider School Choices

McCaskill suggests that young people research the reproductive rights laws in states where they’re applying to colleges. Fortunately, there’s an abundance of information available online. The 19th, an independent news site, has published a thorough guide to the laws in each state, while The Cut recently published a comprehensive package, which included information on how to get an abortion

Her Campus spoke to a University of Tennessee health professional who is urging school health centers to get more involved. “If the colleges in [some of] these states are as progressive as they claim to be, they should offer help to women who need it,” says Amelia McNeil, 20, a rising junior at Elmhurst University in Illinois.

In 2019, when McNeil was a high schooler in Maine, she created “My College, My Choice” — a community that provides a form letter to send to schools you are no longer considering because of policies enacted by their state’s government. “It’s a protest, a movement, to commit to choosing a college that will protect your rights,” McNeil tells Teen Vogue. “When it started, I was 17 and could not vote and I wanted to do something. I took a break from the account after the last election because we thought reproductive freedom would be protected, but now there’s more interest.”

Still, getting to “choose” where you go to college is a privileged conversation. State schools cost less and many students won’t have the opportunity to leave their home states for school and they can’t travel to another state for care. (And if some Missouri lawmakers get their way, that sort of travel would be illegal, too). 

In places like Texas, the whisper networks are already active. In 2021, Bustle reported from Texas Tech University in Lubbock, a self-described “sanctuary city for the unborn,” where abortion is banned. They heard from students passing around sticks of gum containing information about where to get medical abortion pills.

“It is so important to do research now when looking at schools,” says Alena, who is from the Fort Worth, Texas, area. “What laws are in place to protect women? If I am raped, am I protected? What does a post-Roe world look like in the state of Alabama? Or if I were to go to school at the Mayo Clinic in Arizona? All of these things you have to take into consideration now.”

Students like Alena, who are going into medicine and other health care fields, will have even more to consider. McCaskill says doctors will be some of the primary targets for these extreme abortion laws, especially those who work in women’s health, fertility, and IVF. “What’s going to happen,” McCaskill says, “is [there will be] states where it is not clear what a doctor can do without stepping over the line of criminal liability insurance.”

Aarya Ghonasgi, 21, a rising senior at the University of Oklahoma, who is currently working on her applications for medical school, has lived in the state since she was a toddler and for financial reasons stayed in Oklahoma for college. “Staying in-state was very important to me. I am on scholarship and I am a National Merit Scholar,” Ghonasgi tells Teen Vogue. “I wanted to keep my costs low for undergrad and be close to my family.”