IN-DEPTH: college students return to campus with new abortion ban

Posted at 8:59 PM, Aug 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-26 21:53:22-04

For the first time in nearly 50 years, students are arriving to college campuses in Kentucky in a world where they can no longer get an abortion.

Administrators have largely been silent on students' options to terminate an unwanted pregnancy, but that hasn't stopped students from thinking about the what-ifs.

"In a world that's changing every day, on a college campus that is known to be always changing and to be so inclusive, we just don't have the same rights as other people might have," said Berea College senior Mackenzie Hall.

Hall admits the uncertainty has left her and her friends uneasy.

"I know my friends, at least, are being more careful, are being a lot more aware of their surroundings, and who they surround themselves with," said Hall.

Simultaneously, the abortion ban in Kentucky is good news for anti-abortion students like Eastern Kentucky University student Lydia Pills.

"It's a new freedom. It feels great," said Pills.

It's also a source of fear for abortion rights students like Allison Miller.

"People are more scared to talk about it because of the repercussions they may face and the different opinions of everybody else," said Miller.

According to CDC data, women in their twenties accounted for more than half of the abortions in 2019.

Women in their twenties are arguably the biggest demographic in college.

Many are citing the fall of Roe V. Wade as the push for them to get more involved. 

I never really thought of myself as a leader, but I keep being pulled and called,” said Berea College Senior A’Nya Badger. “I just accepted that God's calling on my life is to lead people places."

So when a group she was in (The Youth Abortion Support Collective) started talking about organizing even further, she didn’t hesitate to join a new organization that would be run under the
Religious Coalition For Reproductive Choice. Badger is now starting a chapter of Spiritual Youth For Reproductive Freedom, a spiritually-based pro-choice activism group.

“It's creating space for the whole multitude of people, and creating the space for people who are of faith and pro-choice,” said Badger. “I'm always thinking about how to make justice more accessible and how that affects them on a spiritual, personal and psychological level.”

Badger is double majoring in social justice and psychology and is also a school chaplain.

“The main assumption for most people is that everyone who identifies as anything, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, or any of the other faiths go on and on, they assume that everyone is pro-life,” said Badger. “Someone being forced into a situation that could be more harmful to their life just really bothers me in any aspect.”

At Eastern Kentucky University, students like Pills are also planning to get more involved. She plans to advocate to keep abortion banned.

“Just trying to talk to people... It's hard to change people's minds but just having conversations with them. I love kids. It's not right to take a child's life because they could end up being a wonderful person one day," said Pills.

Both students are at colleges in rural conservative areas in Kentucky where the majority of residents in the county voted republican in 2020.

Colleges are different — a melting pot of cultures and beliefs. But regardless, students are paying attention.