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College students return to campus without access to abortion

DEVELOPMENT… The story will be updated as new information can be verified. Updated 3 times

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Before Abby Roth started her freshman year at the University of Texas at Austin, she had a plan to make sure her college years didn’t include a pregnancy or a child she wasn’t ready to have. have. She would take birth control pills and use condoms with her boyfriend – and if she got pregnant, she would travel out of state to have an abortion.

The music education student from Plano, Texas, had developed this plan with her mother in anticipation of the United States Supreme Court’s decision this summer that overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade, triggering a state law that banned virtually all abortions in Texas. Now, as she starts new classes on Monday and joins a sorority, she is also worried about the new law.

“Texas chooses the life of the baby over the life of the mother,” she said. “I don’t want that to happen to me.”

Roth is among students who say new abortion restrictions in states such as Texas, Ohio and Indiana are influencing their personal and political behavior as they return to college campuses this fall. The changes are public and energize the activism of opponents and proponents of abortion rights, but they are also intimate.

Ohio State University said the decision does not change the services provided by its student health services or medical center, noting that Ohio already prohibits state institutions from performing elective abortions. . It also does not affect how the OSU Title IX office handles reports of sexual assault.

But some students say those situations have crossed their minds as they contemplate the fall of Roe and Ohio’s ban on first detectable “fetal heartbeat” abortions. This can be as early as the sixth week of gestation, before many people know they are pregnant.

Nikki Mikov, a junior from Dayton, Ohio, said news of the legal changes initially made her nervous that her options would be limited if she got pregnant. But by the time she was back on campus last week, she said her thoughts were more focused on more immediate things — moving in, friends, classes.

Conversations about the changing abortion access landscape appear to have waned since the start of the summer, said Brian Roseboro, an Ohio State senior from Montclair, New Jersey. But the 21-year-old, who is single, said the new law made him more careful and aware about using contraception this year.

“I definitely think about it a lot more,” Roseboro said.

Jamie Miller, a junior at Ohio University, said he participated in several protests this summer, including one where he gave a speech explaining how support for abortion rights overlaps with the defense of the bodily autonomy of transgender people like him.

More intimately, Miller, 20, said the new limits on abortion influenced the decision he and his partner made to avoid any sexual activity that could risk pregnancy. After years of taking testosterone, going through a pregnancy would not be healthy for him or the child, he said, adding that it would also upset his education and put him in debt.

“It would be pretty catastrophic in every way of my life,” Miller said.

After Emily Korenman of Dallas decided to study business at Indiana University, she was frustrated to learn that her new state had passed new restrictions on abortion that take effect on September 15 and allow limited exceptions. The 18-year-old said it didn’t change her mind about going to a school she really loves, but she doesn’t know what she would do if she got pregnant in college.

“Personally, I don’t know if abortion would be the choice I would make,” Korenman said. “But I would respect anyone’s opinion, you know, whatever body they have the right to make that choice.”

Anti-abortion activists in states like Indiana and Ohio say they plan to advocate for more campus support for pregnant college students now that abortion is no longer an option in most cases.

Members of the Students for Life of America campus say they plan to interact with like-minded organizations that support survivors of sexual assault and collect baby items for parents in need.

They also hope to advance their cause to stop abortion. They want to build relationships, even with people who have different views on abortion, and “find where we can agree, so that we can help them and then go deeper into change.” other people’s opinions” on abortion, said Lauren McKean, a sophomore at Purdue University Fort Wayne.

Abortion rights supporters are also planning awareness activities on campus.

Giana Formica, a sophomore at Cleveland State University, said she got hundreds of condoms through a nonprofit for her campus advocacy group to distribute, and that she had bought emergency contraception in case someone she knows needed it.

“As a queer individual at this point in my life, I probably won’t be in a place where I get pregnant,” she said. “I’m doing this for other people because it’s not something I need right now.”

Formica said it also expects to face more aggressive disagreements from abortion opponents during on-campus outreach with its chapter of URGE – Unite for Reproductive and Gender Equity. So she thinks about how to navigate those conversations with her fellow students and where she draws the lines to cut them.

Zoya Gheisar is also considering how to talk about it. She leads a student club affiliated with Planned Parenthood at Denison University in Ohio. As the new school year dawned, she was still trying to figure out what information peer sex educators would provide when talking to first-graders, and how to help club members discuss abortion issues with more confidence. ’empathy.

“When we have conversations as a club, I really try to get away from the rhetoric that can be so polarizing,” said Gheisar, a 22-year-old Seattle player.

Her hope, she said, is to evolve into a discussion that recognizes “it’s a really intimate thing, with real people at heart and heart.”

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Franko reported from Columbus, Ohio. Associated Press reporter Patrick Orsagos in Columbus contributed.

Rodgers is a member of the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative body. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places reporters in local newsrooms to report on underreported issues.

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