In late June, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, which had protected an individual’s right to an abortion for nearly 50 years.
Since then, the landscape of abortion access continues to shift, as some states enact abortion bans and others affirm Americans’ right to safe, legal abortion. These decisions affect millions of Americans, including those attending colleges in states where abortion is now (or will soon be) illegal.
To find out how these individuals are reacting to abortion bans, Intelligent.com surveyed 1,000 current U.S. college students who are attending schools in states where abortion is currently or soon-to-be illegal. We asked respondents about their views on abortion and whether or not they plan to continue attending school in a state where they or their partners can access a safe, legal abortion
- 20% of students at colleges in states where abortion is or may soon become illegal ‘definitely’ plan to transfer to states where abortion is legal; 25% are considering transferring
- 39% of students who identify as ‘pro-life’ are planning to or considering transferring so they can access abortion care for themselves or their partner
- 55% of Democrat students and 41% of Republican students at schools in states with abortion bans are definitely or potentially transferring
- Three-fourths of pro-choice college students are ‘very concerned’ that a nationwide abortion ban is next
45% of college students in states where abortion is illegal are planning to or considering transferring
For nearly half of students who are attending school in states where abortion is currently or will soon be illegal, the overturning of Roe v. Wade presents a potential disruption to their education.
Twenty percent of students in states where abortion is currently or soon-to-be illegal, which includes West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Iowa, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas, Wyoming and Utah, say they’re ‘definitely’ transferring to a different school in a state where abortion is still legal.
Another 25% of students are ‘considering’ transferring to a school in a state with legal abortion. The remaining 55% have no intentions to change schools based on abortion laws.
4 in 10 students who identify as ‘pro-life’ still want to access abortion care for themselves
Forty-eight percent of survey respondents identified as ‘pro-choice.’ Thirty-eight percent are ‘pro-life, with exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the mother,’ and 14% are ‘pro-life, with no exceptions.’
When broken down by views on abortion, the slight majority of pro-choice students, 53%, are planning to or considering switching schools.
Among the students who identify as pro-life, 39% indicated they are also planning or considering transfers to schools in states with legal abortion.
When asked why they are planning to or considering transferring, 61% of pro-life students say it’s to ensure that they or their partner(s) can access abortion care should they find themselves with an unwanted pregnancy. Another 23% of students who identify as pro-life don’t want their education interrupted by an unplanned pregnancy.
More than 1/4 of Democrat students will transfer out of schools in states with abortion bans
In a nod to how politicized the issue of reproductive rights has become, a student’s political affiliation, not their gender or personal views on abortion, appears most likely to inform their reaction to abortion bans in the state where they’re attending college.
Twenty-seven percent of students who identify as Democrats are definitely transferring, while 28% are considering it.
By comparison, only 19% of Republican students indicate they’re definitely transferring, and 22% say they’re considering it.
Non-political students are the most unlikely to have plans to transfer. Only 11% of students in this group definitely intend on transferring, with another 21% considering it.
Meanwhile, 20% of both women and men are definitely planning on transferring. Another 28% of women and 23% of men are considering switching schools.
2/3 of students with intentions of transferring want to ensure access to legal abortion
Sixty-five percent of students who are definitely or possibly transferring away from schools in states with abortion bans say it’s because they want to ensure that they or their partner(s) will have access to legal abortion care in the event of an unwanted pregnancy.
Men were slightly more likely to select this reason than women, by a rate of 70% to 61%.
However, 48% of women say they want to transfer because they don’t want to attend college in a state that doesn’t value bodily autonomy, compared to 40% of men.
Students also understand that where they spend their money matters. Forty-six percent of women and 43% of men want to transfer because they don’t want to economically support a state that bans abortion.
Half of students staying put due to personal and financial reasons
Among students who have no intentions of transferring, the reasons are largely about practical concerns.
Fifty-two percent of students who aren’t transferring say they can’t because of personal or financial reasons.
Pro-choice students are slightly more likely to give this reason than their pro-life counterparts, by a rate of 60% to 46%.
Twenty-nine percent of these students also say they’re too far along in their program to switch schools now.
However, ideology is a factor in the decision for some students.
Republican students are twice as likely as Democrats to say they are remaining in their current state because they support abortion bans, and are proud to attend school in a state where abortion is illegal (27% vs. 11%). This answer was also selected by 22% of pro-life students.
Thirty percent of Republican students are choosing to remain in a state with an abortion ban because they or their partner(s) wouldn’t get an abortion in the event of an unwanted pregnancy. Twenty-one percent of Democrat students also selected this answer.
Some students are also betting on being able to get the care they need from a state where abortion is legal. Nineteen percent of pro-choice students are remaining where they are because they have the resources to travel out-of-state if they need an abortion.
Nearly all pro-choice students are concerned a nationwide abortion ban is next
Even as the U.S. sorts out its current rules on abortion, some anti-abortion activists are calling for a nationwide ban on the procedure.
Seventy-five percent of pro-choice students are ‘very concerned’ about the possibility of a nationwide abortion ban, and 22% are ‘somewhat concerned.’
In order to combat this, the majority of pro-choice students are taking action. Forty-seven percent are advocating for abortion rights by signing petitions, and 40% have attended protests or rallies.
Some are showing their support by donating to abortion funds and reproductive rights organizations (29%) or volunteering with reproductive rights organizations (21%).
Others are getting political. Twenty-eight percent have donated to pro-choice political candidates, and 15% are contacting state and federal lawmakers urging them to codify abortion access into law. Nine percent say they’re planning to or considering running for elected office themselves as a result of the Supreme Court’s decision.
All data found within this report derives from a survey commissioned by Intelligent.com and conducted online by survey platform Pollfish. In total, we surveyed 1,000 current U.S. college students ages 18-24 attending a four-year university in one of the following states: WV, OH, IN, KY, TN, SC, GA, AL, MS, LA, AR, MO, IA, ND, SD, OK, TX, WY, ID, UT. Appropriate respondents were found via Pollfish’s screening tools and a screening question. This survey was conducted from July 1-July 4, 2022. All respondents were asked to answer all questions truthfully and to the best of their abilities. Any questions can be directed to [email protected].
Full survey results
1. What will your student status be in Fall 2022?
- Freshman: 17%
- Sophomore: 27%
- Junior: 23%
- Senior: 27%
- Other: 7%
2. Which of the following best describes your political affiliation?
- Democrat: 34%
- Republican: 24%
- Independent: 23%
- Not political: 17%
- Third-party (Green, Libertarian, etc.): 2%
3. Which religion do you most closely identify with?
- No religious affiliation: 21%
- Christian (including Protestant, Baptist, Lutheran, Pentecostal, Methodist, Presbyterian, etc.): 47%
- Catholicism (Roman Catholic): 10%
- Judaism: 2%
- Mormon (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints): 2%
- Muslim (Islam): 3%
- Hinduism: 1%
- Buddhism: 1%
- Sikh: 0%
- Unitarian: 0%
- Wicca: 1%
- Atheist (don’t believe in God): 3%
- Agnostic (Not sure if there is a God): 4%
4. Are you aware that Roe v. Wade, which protected an individual’s right to an abortion, was overturned, and abortion is banned or likely to be banned in the state where your college is located?
- Yes: 89%
- No: 11%
5. Which of the following best describes your stance on abortion?
- Pro-choice (To Q6): 48%
- Pro-life, but with exceptions for rape, incest, and the life of the mother (To Q8): 38%
- Pro-life, with no exceptions (To Q8): 14%
6. (If 5A) How concerned are you about the possibility of a nationwide ban on abortion?
- Very concerned: 75%
- Somewhat concerned: 22%
- Not at all concerned: 4%
7. Are you taking any actions to support access to abortion? Please select all that apply.
- Attending protests or rallies: 40%
- Donating to pro-choice politicians: 28%
- Donating to abortion funds and reproductive rights organizations: 29%
- Volunteering with reproductive rights organizations: 21%
- Running or considering running for elected office: 9%
- Signing petitions: 47%
- Organizing events on-campus: 16%
- Contacting state and federal lawmakers to codify reproductive rights: 15%
- Other: 4%
- None of the above: 21%
8. Do you plan to transfer to a school in a different state where abortion is still legal?
- Yes, definitely plan to transfer: 20%
- Am considering transferring: 25%
- No, will not transfer: 55%
9. (If 8A or 8B) Why are you transferring or considering transferring to a college in a state with abortion access? Please select all that apply.
- To ensure that I or my partner(s) can get a legal abortion in case of an unwanted pregnancy: 65%
- Don’t want to economically support a state that bans abortion: 44%
- Don’t want to attend college in a state that doesn’t value body autonomy: 44%
- To ensure my education won’t be interrupted by an unwanted pregnancy: 26%
- Other: 2%
10. (If 8C) Why won’t you transfer to a college in a state with abortion access? Please select all that apply.
- I can’t transfer to a school in a different state because of financial/personal reasons: 52%
- I or my partner(s) wouldn’t get an abortion in the event of a pregnancy: 27%
- I support abortion bans and am proud to attend college in a state that bans abortion: 14%
- I’m too far along in my program to transfer to a different schoolL 29%
- I have the resources to travel out-of-state if I need an abortion: 12%
- Other: 7%
*Percentages may exceed 100% due to rounding*