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At the Approach of a Second Year Since Roe v. Wade Was Overturned Some College Students Seem Unfazed

By Bethany Goodwin 

Abortion is one of the most controversial issues in contemporary American politics. The 2022 overturning by the Supreme Court of Roe v. Wade–which governed reproductive rights in the U.S. for nearly 50 years–has changed the way many Americans make their reproductive choices. As of press time, 21 states ban or restrict the procedure earlier in pregnancy than the standard set by the law. One may think that for college students this ruling has important implications for our future decisions. However, a fall survey of 25 Long Island college students revealed that this may not be the case. The survey found that although the majority of students do not agree with the ruling, it doesn't affect their future decisions regarding birth control, family planning, activism and moving to another state. 

“I know it [the overturning of Roe v. Wade] has made some people cautious but I wouldn’t say it has personally affected me that much,” said Sarah Sepulveda, a student from The Fashion Institute of Technology. 

Protest of Roe v. Wade being overturned in 2022. Photo from Creative Commons

The overturning of Roe v. Wade caused uproar in many quarters. However, when students were asked whether they had become more politically active in response to this decision, 76 percent of the respondents said they hadn’t. Max Mastrogiacomo, a communications student at Adelphi, said, “I wouldn’t say I have become more politically active. This decision just made me feel sorry for those affected by it.” 

When asked, “Would you move to a state that has banned or not banned abortion?” 72 percent of respondents said it has no effect on what state they move to.

Gia Efstathopoulos, the president of Adelphi University’s Christian Fellowship group, said, “I wouldn’t base my decision [on where to live] off of [the ruling]. I’m not going to be like, I’m not going to move [to another state] because they allow [abortion].” 

Sepulveda, on the other hand, disagreed. “I wouldn’t move to a state that has banned abortion. I would want to be in one that supports it,” she said. 

Tereza Cornelio, event coordinator for the organization Student Appreciation and Recognition of Adelphi Pinoys at Adelphi, echoed a similar sentiment.

“Since I live in New York, the overturning hasn’t affected me greatly since abortions are still legal here. However, if I were to have a family in the future, I wouldn’t want to be in a state that doesn’t allow abortions because if an event happened where I would need to get an abortion, I don’t want to risk crossing state lines,” she said. 

Birth Control Concerns?

The survey also asked students if they “have become more or less careful about using birth control?” Sixty percent said they do not use birth control while 28 percent chose “It has no effect on how I use birth control.” 

Arianna de Saint-Leon, a student studying criminal justice at John Jay College, said, “I don’t necessarily think it’s because of Roe v. Wade that students aren't using birth control or wanting to get pregnant; rather it's just their personal preference.”

Students can educate themseslves on the current abortion laws for their specific state. Photo from Flickr

Joseph Spaltro, the public relations officer of Adelphi University’s Christian Fellowship, agreed that it was more of a personal decision. “As a Christian, I base my life off of the Bible. Personally, I want to have a stable life with the right person. I never based it off of Roe. v. Wade.” 

Students were also asked whether they are more or less likely to have a family since the ruling and 60 percent of respondents answered “It has no effect on future family decisions” while 32 percent said they do not plan on having a family regardless. 

Even though the survey shows that most students are not affected, they still have strong opinions on the subject. 

Aleena Shelly, a senior at Nassau Community College, said, “It hasn’t really affected me yet because I don’t have any kids or neither am I pregnant. But I think we should still have a choice because things can happen and you have no control over them.”

Mastrogiacomo, who had previously said he hadn’t become more politically active, also stated, “I personally haven’t been too affected by the overturning of Roe v. Wade, but I have seen reactions from women that are, in my opinion, very rightly furious with this decision.” 

At the same time, students who are already politically active do have opinions on the matter. Matthew Margulefsky, president of the Adelphi College Republicans National Committee Chapter, said, “The College Republicans is a political organization at Adelphi that intends to promote conservative ideas; we stand on the side of life. Our organization largely focuses on issues including free markets, peace through strength and limited government.” 

In response to whether the overturning of Roe v. Wade has affected any future decisions for members, Margulefsky replied, “All members reside in New York where abortion has not been restricted.” 

According to this survey, the 2022 ruling has not significantly impacted college students’ daily lives or led them to make different decisions. But this doesn’t mean that they aren’t concerned.

 “I remember being really upset and reading the news a lot the day Roe V. Wade had been overturned,” said Cornelio. 

So the question remains, why doesn't the ban on abortion prompt students to decide differently? 

Skylar Dorr, a junior communications major at Adelphi, said, “I think that it impacts students on an emotional level, where they probably feel empathy for those who have suffered, but in regard to them changing their habits or living situation, I feel it might not be such a priority because some students might not have any personal affiliation or experiences with abortion.” 

Dorr explained why she thinks students should look at their choices regarding the ban. “Students should definitely be more involved regardless of what side you are on. Things like voting in local elections and even reaching out to people in positions of power may be able to help. A little can go a long way when it comes to politics.” 

Additionally, even if some students are apathetic about the topic, Dorr said, “Students who don’t care about the topic should still get involved simply because the cause is greater than one individual, it is an issue that puts women in jeopardy.” 

Furthermore, even though the survey shows that 76 percent of students have not become more politically active, Maggie Gray, associate professor of Political Science and International Relations at Adelphi, said, “The bigger point, however, is that 27%, more than 1 in 4 of the respondents, became more politically active. Imagine if 1 in 4 AU students dyed their hair pink? You would notice this everywhere.” 

But what does this increase mean for college students on Long Island today? 

“Young people (18 to 24) vote in the lowest percentage compared to other age groups,” said Gray. “A 27 percent in students' political activity tells me that abortion is a significant issue for Gen Z. It means they have a self-perception of being more politically engaged and that’s great news.” 

What should students do if they want to be more proactive in this issue? 

“They can start by educating themselves on the current abortion laws for their specific state and maybe follow Planned Parenthood as it constantly puts out updates regarding abortion laws in America,” said Sepulveda.  

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