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Vice President Kamala Harris recently hosted a roundtable discussion about the effects of abortion restrictions on college students. The first Black VP met with leadership from several colleges and Universities. 

Harris was joined by Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. The two hosted a discussion about the health, safety, and well-being of college students during a time when reproductive rights are being trampled. 

According to the White House, restrictions on abortion disproportionately affect college students. Black college students, in particular, face unique challenges. 

Nearly three-quarters of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) are located in states with strict abortion restrictions. HBCU students face many barriers to accessing reproductive healthcare – and comprehensive health education.

HBCU students in red states face barriers to reproductive healthcare, abortion

According to Kalaya Sibley, a college student at Dillard University, an HBCU in Louisiana, “I believe everyone should have a right to make decisions about their bodies. Knowing that people who look like me, and even just women in general, have to experience these roadblocks … is defeating.”

Data has shown that young, Black women forced to carry a pregnancy are less likely to graduate college with a higher degree. Additionally, women who experience unintended pregnancies are four times more likely to end up living under the federal poverty line. 

Additionally, the cost of abortion is a barrier for many women. Medical abortions can cost up to $750, while procedural abortions can be twice that cost. 

And that’s just one of the reasons VP Harris considers these conversations about college students to be integral. She gave accolades to college leadership who are continuing to provide access to abortion care for their students, faculty, and staff.

Meanwhile, HBCU presidents and other college leadership have vowed to continue supporting their students. Thomas K. Hudson, the President of Jackson State University, plans to continue providing comprehensive reproductive education and care to students on campus and off. 

And that matters to students like Sibley, who is considering where to attend law school in the wake of the Supreme Court dismantling Roe V Wade. According to Sibley, “I don’t see myself attending law school in a southern state,” she stated, mentioning Jim Crow and the history of slavery in Southern States. She continued, “the limiting of abortion access was the cherry on top for me.”

Erika Stone is a graduate student in the Master of Social Work program at the University of Oklahoma, and a graduate assistant at Schusterman Library. A Chess Memorial Scholar, she has a B.A. in Psychology...

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