North Texas Daily

Universities should support their students’ abortion rights

Universities should support their students’ abortion rights

Universities should support their students’ abortion rights
July 01
12:00 2022

Content Warning: This story contains heavy language concerning sexual assault. Viewer discretion is advised. 

The Supreme Court overturned the ruling of Roe v. Wade on June 24 and removed the constitutional right to an abortion. It’s up to the states themselves to decide the legality of abortion now, and 13 states have already preemptively passed “trigger laws” that would criminalize abortion. Although Texas already banned abortions past six weeks of pregnancy, abortion will be completely illegal 30 days after Roe v. Wade’s repeal.

Young people with the ability to give birth will be noticeably affected. Nearly 28 percent of individuals who get an abortion are aged 20-24, and people in their 20s make up 56.9 percent of abortions. Thirty-eight percent of people in their 20s are students in a post-secondary institution, and with abortion criminalized, universities owe it to their students to advocate for safe sex, provide easy access to contraception and crack down on rapes on campus.

Without Roe, 26 states are certain or likely to ban abortion, and it is even more imperative for universities in those states to take the initiative. An unintended pregnancy for a student can permanently change the course of their academic and professional career.

If abortion isn’t accessible, then there must be a safe alternative. Just because one can give birth doesn’t mean carrying pregnancy to full term is an option — universities need to act fast to minimize the damage done by the Supreme Court.

This isn’t an all-encompassing solution, as abortions happen for a multitude of reasons aside from rape and unsafe sex. The only entities that can ensure a solution to single-handedly protect people who can get pregnant are the state and federal governments. That said, it doesn’t mean everyone else is powerless to minimize the damage caused by the Supreme Court’s repeal of Roe v. Wade — universities have the ability to protect their students. 

Nearly 93 percent of college students are aged 18-24 in a time when only 30 states require sex education in high schools. Students at all levels can benefit from proper sex education, but the best time to instill the importance of safe sex is when students are in their first year so they can navigate the rest of their college career safely. Educational institutions should conduct detailed lessons about contraception as well as side effects and failure rates.

Universities should also provide reliable resources students can use to make educated decisions on what works best for them. Information should be inclusive: historically marginalized groups – namely low-income, Black, brown and transgender communities are each uniquely affected by abortion accessibility.

Information on contraception must include what options are accessible to transgender people who take testosterone. Contraception and consent are important topics regardless of abortion legality, and by focusing on these topics, the rate of unwanted pregnancies could decrease. 

Universities in states where abortion is banned must also modify their attendance policy to accommodate students who have to leave the state to get an abortion and students who decide to continue their pregnancy. In North Texas, the nearest abortion clinic is more than 300 miles away. Students who travel the state for abortions would be well within their rights to do so, as interstate travel is protected by section 2 of Article IV of the 14th Amendment.

It is essential students are also reminded of exactly what is and isn’t consent and the consequences of not respecting it. Still, it might not be enough to simply educate — there must also be a change in the way universities handle rape cases. While universities cannot dole out prison sentences, that doesn’t mean they cannot give out appropriate consequences.

Only 20 percent of women in college who have been sexually assaulted report the crime. Part of that reason is because of a lack of faith in universities to deliver consequences, especially when less than 1 in 3 campus sexual assault allegations end in expulsion. Universities must make the effort to be supportive and effective enough for students to feel they can report an assault.

The absence of Roe v. Wade will, for the first time in nearly 50 years, leave Americans without a guaranteed constitutional right to an abortion. Still, this isn’t the moment to stand in shock. Universities must act quickly because people — namely their students — will always seek abortions. This new decision just leaves Americans ignorant of what their next best option is. Young students are in a dangerous position and need university support now more than ever.

Featured Illustration by Erika Sevilla

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Hana Musa

Hana Musa

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