After realizing that the guy she had just had sex with didn’t use a condom, Piper* ’20 had to take Plan B One-Step. The emergency contraception kept Piper from facing an unwanted pregnancy, but under the anti-abortion bills that are being passed in states throughout the country, Piper would not have the ability to have gotten the abortion that she said she could have potentially needed.
“I think that once you’ve gone through that kind of experience, it’s really scary thinking that some women won’t have access to the same things I did,” Piper said. “It’s an eye-opening experience, and I realized how lucky I was to live in a place where things were so accessible to me.”
The recently passed controversial anti-abortion bills restrict abortion rights, generally making abortion illegal as soon as a fetal heartbeat can be detected. Usually, a heartbeat can be detected at six weeks, but in many cases this is before a women is even aware that she is pregnant, according to the American Pregnancy Association. Over the span of the last five months alone, six states have passed anti-abortion bills, with Alabama’s being the most restrictive as a near-total ban on abortion, according to the New York Times. The legislation in Alabama makes no exception for rape or incest cases, and doctors who perform abortions could face life in prison.
After being signed by Governor Kay Ivey, Alabama’s new law is set to be put into effect in six months, but due to the strong disapproval of the extremity of the bill, it might ultimately be blocked, according the HuffPost. Abortion was banned in the state over 150 years ago, but after the 1973 ruling of Roe v. Wade, abortion has been legal throughout the entire United States.
While there has been a lot of vocal public disapproval for the bills, especially the one in Alabama, almost half of all Americans consider themselves “pro-life,” according to the Washington Post. Contrarily, in a Chronicle poll of 303 students, only 6 percent consider themselves “pro-life.”
“I am anti-abortion,” Sion Yoo ’20 said. “I consider the fetus inside the womb to be a baby. A lot of the time people get an abortion because they don’t want to be responsible, and I don’t think it’s right that they are avoiding that responsibility when they decide to be sexually active by getting an abortion.”
The number of states passing anti-abortion bills is continuously increasing, with bills being close to passing in states such as South Carolina and Missouri, according to the Washington Post.
Following a 10-year period where abortion was allowed, Louisiana passed a bill May 21 declaring abortion unconstitutional and illegal in the state, according to The Advocate.
“I am opposed to this bill [because] it will deprive women of their rights to choose if this bill is held as constitutional,” Louisiana State Senator Troy Carter said. “[But the bill is] very close [to passing]; there are not enough votes to block this unconstitutional bill.”
Author of the bill and State Representative in the Louisiana House of Representatives Katrina Jackson said that the majority of Louisiana supports pro-life legislation.
“I worked with advocates to write this bill,” Jackson said. “We went through multiple drafts before we filed it. I wrote the bill because I support life.”
The bills that are being passed will affect people who live in the states as well as students who attend college there.
“It has become an incredibly scary situation for me and any female, especially at the age where we’re in college with this anti-abortion bill,” Kristin Kuwada ’18, who is currently attending Emory University in Georgia, said. “I have had many friends and acquaintances who have had a pregnancy scare and the thought that they would not be allowed the right to make their own choice that will change their life forever is completely unjust. Coming from a liberal state and going to college in a more conservative southern state like Georgia has exposed me to a whole new political climate and unfortunately, it has shown me how much work needs to be done in inspiring change. I can feel that my community from back home in Los Angeles and even my community in college are outraged and ready to get involved in whatever ways they can.”
While the liberal majority of California will keep the state from passing any anti-abortion legislation, according to National Public Radio, many students, such as Becca Frischling, who will also be attending Emory University, said they are concerned about the legislation especially if the are attending college in the states where laws have been passed.
“Hearing about the new abortion laws definitely did make me more nervous, in addition to upsetting me on a fundamental level,” Frischling said. “As a woman going into college, I think it’s something that would be of concern to almost everyone in the situation.”
The newly developed fear that is arising in students going to school in states passing legislation limiting abortion access is not exclusive to Frischling.
“I think it is terrifying for any woman, especially young girls going off to college, to know they do not have authority over their own bodies,” Lily Block ’19, who will be attending Tulane University in Louisiana, said. “All morality things aside, no other human being should be able to dictate what is right or wrong when it comes to a woman wanting to have an abortion.”
In fact, some students who have not started the college process yet said that the anti-abortion bills being passed will affect where they will consider going to college.
“I don’t want to consider schools in places where these laws are being put into effect,” Piper said. “I really want to prioritize my safety in case I’m ever in another situation where I might need an abortion.”
Following the passing of these bills, there has been a lot of public disapproval, according to Fox News. Along with celebrities and politicians voicing their objections to the legislation, many rising college students who will be moving to states with the new anti-abortion laws are vocalizing their concerns as well.
“Going to school in the South had been something I was a little nervous about for a long time, [but] I do feel a little bit better because a large portion of my incoming class at Emory has already started a letter writing campaign to representatives in Alabama and Georgia sharing their dissenting views on the new abortion laws,” Frischling said. “So, I am at least proud to know that I am going to a school and a community that shares my values and will be vocal about them.”
Despite all of the recent passing of these bills, they cannot go into effect because of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court Case. The Supreme Court decided that due to the 14th Amendment, the U.S. Constitution provides a fundamental “right to privacy” that protects a pregnant woman’s liberty to choose whether or not to have an abortion.
“It would be a violation if they were directly trying to block women’s access to abortion rights,” history teacher Conrad Cuda said. “The way that some of the states are trying to find ways around that is there is no requirement actually fund programs that allow access. There are some arguments there that are trying to limit funding. There is this focus of free exercise within the first amendment of religion versus the establishment clause on where to define life. The argument that [abortion] can now be criminalized. All of these are attempts of trying to find the right case to overturn [Roe v. Wade].”
At the moment, the Supreme Court has declined to hear cases brought by Kansas and Louisiana which could potentially limit abortion rights, according to the New York Times. But until the Supreme Court agrees to hear a case that questions Roe v. Wade, none of the new anti-abortion laws can be implemented.
“I feel that it’s disgusting that people are using the current political climate to try and overturn a monumental decision for women’s rights, and I think everyone should be upset about this regardless of where you’re going next year and take action in whatever community you are a part of,” Frischling said. “I hope that by being in the geographic hotbed for this particular issue I can use my voice to make as much of an impact as possible.”
*Names have been changed.