Poll: Abortion Laws A Factor For Northeast Students Choosing Colleges

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BOSTON (State House News Service) — The competition among colleges for students is intensifying, and state laws banning abortion are among the new considerations for students and families.

A recent poll of students and families in nine Northeast states found that 76 percent of students do not want to attend school in a state where abortion is restricted, and three quarters of parents prefer their child to attend school in a state without restrictions, according to results released on Tuesday.

The poll, conducted for the Institute for Women's Policy Research by Morning Consult between March 31 and April 7, sampled 501 parents and 500 students. The results have a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

"Abortion bans are affecting where students feel comfortable living and learning," said Daisy Chin-Lor, president and CEO of IWPR. "They do not want to go to states that restrict their reproductive health choices, and their parents do not want to support states that limit women's freedom. This dynamic has serious implications for colleges and universities, particularly those in abortion ban states that traditionally have a lot of out-of-state students."

The poll focused on the Northeast because the region has the highest share of students who leave their state for college -- 45 percent -- compared to 26 percent in the Midwest and West, and 25 percent in the South. Abortion is legal in all nine Northeast states surveyed.

IWPR flagged states that could see a drop in out-of-state students due to the implementation of abortion restrictions since the overturning of Roe v. Wade. An analysis found five states with abortion bans and/or heavy restrictions have at least 25 percent of their college students coming from states without restrictions: Wisconsin (25 percent), West Virginia (30 percent), Idaho (30 percent), and South Dakota (36 percent). Arizona, which has an abortion ban after 15 weeks of pregnancy, has 28 percent of students coming from non-ban states, while Florida, which has enacted a ban after six weeks, has nearly 10 percent.

As Massachusetts policymakers struggle to find solutions to the state's affordability woes, Gov. Maura Healey and Boston Mayor Michelle Wu have been promoting abortion and reproductive rights access in Massachusetts as a plus for people considering a move to the state.

Written by Michael P. Norton/SHNS

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