How young Americans are reacting to the end of Roe

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Isabel Wottowa, 21, has “been better”.

On Friday, she learned of the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe vs. Wade on Twitter, and immediately felt anger — which quickly turned to anxiety, she said.

Although Wottowa, who is a recent college graduate and hostess living in DC, might need an abortion in the future, she isn’t worried about herself. Rather, she fears for people with less access to reproductive health care and what the decision means for the future, she said.

“Growing up, I was told it was like that before and now things are better,” she said. “So being told things are worse and they’re going to get worse is a pretty scary thing.”

Women of color will be most affected by Roe’s end, experts say

Before Friday, young Americans were decades away from a time when abortion was not constitutionally protected in their country. But with the Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the new reality — in which states will decide — has become immediate. Many young people have taken to social media, where they typically make up the largest share of users, to express both despair and gladness.

Those under 30 are also arguably the most immediately affected by the decision. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, in 2019, those between 20 and 29 accounted for 57 percent of all abortions. The middle age for a woman to have her first child at 26. And according to RAINN, 54 percent of victims of sexual violence are between 18 and 34 years old.

Earlier this year, a Gallup poll found that Americans aged 18 to 29 were more likely than older Americans to say they believe abortion should be legal in all circumstances, at 53%. Thirty-five percent said they thought it should be legal in some cases, and 11% said they thought abortion should be illegal.

Kara Zupkus, spokesperson for the conservative youth organization Young America’s Foundation, said she cried when she heard about the decision. “It was such a relief to hear the decision, but I never thought I would see it in my lifetime,” said Zupkus, 25.

She is part of an active group of young anti-abortion activists who dubbed themselves “the post-deer generation.” And along with others, she headed to the Supreme Court on Friday to celebrate the decision: “I feel pumped up and ready to go and win in the court of public opinion, educating people and lawmakers about the realities of abortion,” she said.

Others feel the opposite of relief and excitement. Dominique Webb, 30, had an abortion at 17.

“I was not financially or mentally able to deliver a child,” the Nashville business owner said.

She added that she didn’t regret the decision — she didn’t feel ready to be a mother in high school. “I was very active in high school and knew I wanted to go to college and having a kid at that age would impact that,” Webb said.

Due to the Supreme Court ruling, she said she was going to be vigilant about using condoms – and maybe even abstain from sex for a while. She is particularly concerned about other young black women, who are among the most affected by the decision.

“It’s already a health issue when we give birth,” Webb said, referring to the disproportionately high rates of maternal mortality among black women.

Steven Anderson, 20, said he’s been against abortion since learning about it in 10th grade. He followed the Supreme Court’s online opinion page this month and activated news alerts to ensure he would be informed when the decision was announced.

“I hope this decision means the country will move in a pro-life direction,” Anderson wrote in a message to The Post.

The Massachusetts resident is considering moving to a state that has banned abortion, or a “pro-life state” as he calls it, and believes more anti-abortion laws are imminent.

“I’m glad the babies can have a life and the Supreme Court sent it back to the states,” Anderson continued, adding that he was “a bit concerned about potential unrest.”

Other young Americans have complicated opinions on the matter. Malek Karim, 28, is a hospital computer scientist who has always voted Republican. He is against abortion, he said, but he also thinks the health system needs to be improved to support those who give birth.

“I think until women are treated equally when it comes to health care decisions, you shouldn’t have a total abortion ban,” Karim said.

This Texas teenager wanted an abortion. She now has twins.

Others are driven to action in case abortion is banned where they live. Tanner Ewalt, a 20-year-old living in Wyoming, said he was considering a vasectomy.

“That’s the only thing I can think of that they’re not going to restrict that will help,” he said.

Ewalt’s partner Arthur is a trans man who can get pregnant, Ewalt said. While the couple take precautions to avoid pregnancy, they are still afraid of the risks. “My partner is going to be even more stressed than before,” Ewalt said.

The couple considered leaving Wyoming due to trans rights issues, but the Supreme Court’s decision hastened that timeline, Ewalt added.

The decision is also difficult to process for some survivors of sexual violence, who now worry about what it will mean for future survivors. Danielle Germain, 23, was sexually assaulted during her sophomore and junior year at college. She said: “If I had gotten pregnant when this happened, I absolutely would have needed an abortion and would have had one.”

After her assaults, Germain became a more outspoken proponent of abortion rights, she said. “For women who experience sexual assault, I absolutely believe they have the right to choose what happens to them after those circumstances,” Germain said. (In many states with “tripping bans,” the laws don’t make exceptions for rape or incest.)

Living in South Carolina, which will probably ban abortion, Germain is now worried about what would happen if she were attacked again: “The idea that I will not have a choice scares me.


An earlier version of this article misrepresented Kara Zupkus’ age. It’s 25, not 22.


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