College Women Think They’ll Lose

Reproductive Rights

Under Trump


When we opened our survey on January 23, 2017,

Donald Trump had been president for three days. On that day, he reinstated the global gag rule—an order that forces nonprofits not to discuss abortion with women as a family planning option if they want to receiving funding from the United States. It seemed like an ominous sign for abortion rights under Trump.

The women who took our survey agreed. We asked how they thought their reproductive rights would be affected under a Trump presidency, and received 887 answers—of which 613 expressed that reproductive rights would be affected negatively.

I think that my birth control will no longer be covered by my insurance and as a college student who is 22 years old and nowhere near ready to have a child, but am in a long term sexually active relationship—where does that leave me?” one woman wrote. “Now I need to budget in another monthly payment to add to the $50,000 of debt I’m in.”

"I do not feel that I have an equal right to choose what is best for me and I feel greatly oppressed by the decisions and comments he has made already regarding women,” another wrote.

Fear was a common sentiment, with 87 answers expressing it.

The word “terrified” was used 12 times, “scared” was used 17 times, and “afraid” was used 14 times. “Fear” itself was used 22 times. “I fear that we are going backwards in progress and these policies target and strip power away from women,” one woman wrote.

The fear seems to have been justified—in the weeks since the survey, Trump has appointed Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, who once ruled that businesses should not have to cover employees’ birth control if they have religious objections. In mid-April, Trump signed a law allowing states to defund Planned Parenthood because it performs abortions. The president’s new assistant secretary for public affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services, Charmaine Yoest, is the former CEO of Americans United for Life, a “leading anti-abortion organization.” And most recently, the House of Representatives passed the American Health Care Act, a bill that could cause several reproductive health issues to be classified as pre-existing conditions if it becomes law.

Some women said they didn’t think they would personally be affected, but were still upset about the potential for life to get worse for women with less privilege. “I am confident that I will be able to pay for my birth control in the foreseeable future if Trump repeals that provision in Obamacare,” another respondent wrote. “But my reproductive rights are the same as the girl sitting next to me on the subway. If she can’t afford it then it’s all of our problems.”


Out of all the responses, only four women said they thought Trump would affect their rights positively.

There's no one such thing as a right to an abortion. The right to life will be positively affected,” one of them said. “[Reproductive rights] would change for better,” said another. All four expressed that they believe abortion to be intrinsically wrong, and that they’re glad to see an abortion opponent in the White House.