Responding to Roe v. Wade: 1 in 5 college students plans to transfer

A recent survey of 1,000 U.S. college students highlights their future plans on attending their current university in response to the state's abortion laws.

Since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in late June, states across the U.S. have been deciding whether to enforce abortion bans or give women the right to obtain one.

As the laws of many states continue to shift in response to this ruling, the lives of millions are being affected, including those who attend college in states where getting an abortion may become illegal.

Universities across the country have also made their views on the decision public on both sides of the argument. The Office of the Provost at Vanderbilt University, for example, has created a task force to address Tennessee’s abortion ban and its effects on the university and the state. The task force consists of various staff members at the university.

Chancellor Daniel Diermeier wrote a campus message addressing the university’s support for women’s health.

“At Vanderbilt, we remain steadfast in our commitment to support women’s health and the safety and well-being of our community and to create a supportive and inclusive environment for all members of our community,” Diermeier wrote.

In comparison, many religiously affiliated universities applaud the decision. University President Father Dave Pivonka at Franciscan University of Steubenville, a Catholic college located in Ohio, told, “I am delighted the Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade, a ruling that has wounded the soul of our country.”

In a recent survey from, 1,000 U.S. college students who attend schools in states where abortion is illegal, or soon to be illegal, were asked about their plans to continue attending their institutions.

Here are the four main findings:

  • 20% of students in states where abortion is illegal or soon to become illegal “definitely” plan on transferring to states where it is legal.

States where abortion is illegal include West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Iowa, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas, Wyoming and Utah.

An additional 25% of students “consider” transferring. The remaining 55% have no plan to transfer in response to abortion laws.

  • 39% of pro-life students plan or consider transferring so they can still have the option to obtain abortion care for themselves or their partner.

48% of students reported being pro-choice. 38% say they are pro-life, with exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the mother. 14% of respondents said they were “pro-life, with no exceptions.”

After breaking down the numbers by beliefs on abortion, most pro-choice students (53%) are planning or considering switching schools.

  • 55% of Democratic students and 41% of Republican students are definitely or considering transferring.

Of the 55% of students who identify as Democrats, 27% said they definitely plan to transfer, while the remaining 28% are considering doing so. In addition, of the 41% of students who identify as Republicans, 19% say they plan to transfer, while the remaining 22% are considering it.

  • 75% of college students who are pro-choice fear a nationwide ban on abortion

To combat this fear, students say they are taking action. 47% are signing petitions, and another 40% have attended protests or rallies. 9% of students say they’re planning or considering running for elected office in response to the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

More from UB: Survey reveals Americans’ views on the state of public higher education

Micah Ward
Micah Ward
Micah Ward is a University Business staff writer. He recently earned his master’s degree in Journalism at the University of Alabama. He spent his time during graduate school working on his master’s thesis. He’s also a self-taught guitarist who loves playing folk-style music.

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