Post Roe for college students

Jennifer Crider, A&L Editor

The Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June 2022 putting the right to abortion in states’ hands allowing them the decision of the amount of access women should have to preventative healthcare. While this ruling does not entirely ban abortions, it does take away a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion and access to other preventive measures. Due to this decision, the rate of pregnancies is expected to rise among college students. 

“Roe v. Wade has been criticized as having nothing to do with the constitution and constituting a judicial usurpation of the democratic process,” said Adam Lamparello, assistant professor of criminal justice. “What the court did in Dobbs v. Jackson Womens health is it overturned the choice of abortion to the states. Now, the states will decide on an individual basis. The court also decided that limitations on abortion will be subject to a rational basis test. Meaning, is there a rational relationship between the objectives of the law, the means and uses to obtain these?”

Conservative states, including GA, are passing laws that make it more difficult for women to access abortions. About two weeks ago, Sen. Lindsay Grahm, republican SC senator, proposed a law that would create a nationwide ban on abortion. This law would ban abortions after 15-weeks of pregnancy with the exception of rape, incest or if the life of the mother is in danger, and doctors that perform abortions after 15-weeks will be charged and arrested. This plan would also allow states to create more restrictions on top of this ban.

Before the overturning of Roe v. Wade, women in GA were allowed to have abortions until they were 20-weeks pregnant. Although this law was previously found to be unconstitutional in 2019, in July of 2022, GA passed a new law that allows abortions until six-weeks of pregnancy since the state deems a fetus with a heartbeat as a person with legal rights due to an embryo developing a detectable heartbeat at six-weeks. 

“GA’s heartbeat law will probably stand and that’s gonna make it really difficult for women to get abortions,” Lamparello said. “The reason for this is that women do not know they are pregnant often four or five weeks into a pregnancy.”

In the cases of rape or incest, women in GA are allowed to have an abortion after six-weeks as long as this crime has been reported to police. The state law also permits an abortion later in the pregnancy if the pregnancy is risking the life of a mother. 

GA law still allows women to purchase emergency contraceptives such as Plan B and women can still receive contraceptives such as birth control pills or IUD’s. However, these contraceptive methods are expensive making them not as easily accessible for low-income women. 

“My birth control pills are $15 a month without insurance,” said Dani Mathis, a senior early childhood education major. “If I had insurance, it would be free or $1 at most. When I used to use the birth control shot, it was $120 every three months at Planned Parenthood.” 

The rise in pregnancies among college students is likely to increase in the post Roe v. Wade America due to the fact that this age group typically sexually active. Because abortions are no longer as readily available, sexually active students who do not want to experience pregnancy should consider using some form of birth control. The GC Student Health Services provides free condoms but does not offer students any type of emergency contraception or contraceptives.

“Women though have to bear the financial and emotional burden of pregnancy,” Lamparello said. “Imagine a freshman at GC gets pregnant, the guy can just walk away. She might have to drop out of college which may impact her financial condition for a number of years, if not permanently. In that regard, I think this relegates women to second class citizens.” 

Some students are terrified of what the future might hold for them because of this overturning. 

“When I first heard the news, I felt existential dread,” said Greer Flint, senior management information systems major. “It felt apocalyptic. Almost like I was in the Handmaid’s Tale. I was really worried about having access to my birth control. It made me feel hopeless about the world.” 

The Supreme Court’s ruling has generated a lot of conversations about reproductive rights on social media and a lot of users have been spreading false information. This is dangerous and not only causes widespread panic but it can also put women in danger. People have been posting and spreading posts about methods to induce abortions that are not medically approved. Although many of these users are spreading this information with the goal of helping women, these methods could potentially cause injuries or death. 

According to an article written by CNN, Dr. Jody Steinauer, director of the UCSF Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health, commented on the dangers of spreading misinformation. 

“I feel like nowadays, we are lucky that we do have very safe medication abortion options for people, and I’m worried that if people are circulating misinformation, then people will not know that there are ways that they can access safe methods,” Steinauer said. 

There is no legal action that can be taken against people who spread dangerous misinformation due to social media companies having sole control of their application because they are private corporations.

“The social media companies can regulate misinformation because they are private companies therefore, the first amendment does not apply to social media,” Lamparello said. “The only way to combat misinformation is through the policies that each social media adopts.” 

TikTok has pledged to remove videos about abortion that violate their misinformation policy. Similarly, Facebook has said that they posts about abortion will be reviewed by fact-checkers. 

Rather than spread information about abortion on social media, people should use their platforms to encourage people to participate in the democratic process. It is imperative that people in GA vote because the only way to ensure citizens’ ideas are represented by the government is for everyone to participate in elections.

“I think that the people of Georgia should vote out these legislators who support this, and they should support a law that gives women reasonable access to abortion so that marginialized communities and women in poverty don’t suffer,” Lamparello said. “If you’re interested in protecting abortion rights, you would probably want to vote for Raphael Warnock or Stacey Abrams.”