Female College Students Split on Morality of Abortion Pill
Noto, Melanie, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
The recent approval of the RU-486 "abortion pill" has renewed the abortion debate on college campuses, as students and health officials explore the implications of a drug that changes the way pregnancies are ended.
RU-486, which was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in September, is expected to land in doctors' offices within a few weeks. A slight majority of college students favor the pill, but at the same time they desire more restrictions on abortion.
A recent survey shows that women aged 20-24 have the highest percentage of abortions in America. The Family Planning Perspectives national survey of 10,000 abortion patients in 1994-1995 revealed almost one-third of American abortions (32.8 percent) were performed on women of this age group, from all education backgrounds.
Like the general populace, students are split on the topic.
Erin Hueston, a senior at Wittenberg University in Ohio, applauded the FDA approval.
"It is a less-invasive procedure and women will no longer have to face protesters outside of clinics, risking their lives to have an abortion," the political science major said.
But Jennifer Bradley, a sophomore business major at Georgetown, felt that the move to make abortions accessible in pill form will result in an increase in aborted pregnancies.
"The approval was obviously a huge setback for pro-life organizations because people are going to compartmentalize abortion," the 20-year-old Southboro, Mass., resident said.
Two polls illustrate collegiate uneasiness about the issue. A Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation and MTV poll of 18- to 24-year-olds taken in July revealed a large majority of young people oppose making abortion illegal under any circumstances.
Yet, 47 percent of the 603 young adults polled opposed the release of RU-486 in the United States.
Similarly, an October poll of Florida voters conducted by the New York Times' Florida newspapers found that 18- to 29-year-olds were most in favor of RU-486. However, this group also ranked first in favoring more restrictive abortion laws.
Baltimore pro-life activist Frederica Mathewes-Green, the mother of three college-age children, attributed this contradiction to a younger generation that dislikes the idea of abortion, but considers RU-486 to be less graphic and violent than surgical abortions.
"I know that over recent years the percentage of freshmen opposing abortion has grown," Mrs. Mathewes-Green said. However, many students in this group turn pro-choice by graduation, she added.
Most students agreed that college women want the option of a private, nonsurgical abortion. Elisabeth Brown, a Georgetown University junior, said that abortion has become less of a feminist issue for college women. Instead, the procedure becomes more of an escape from the "scary" reality of pregnancy.
"A lot of college women are pro-choice because they say, `If I was in that position, I would want to have a choice,' " the 20-year-old from Albany, N.Y., said. "It's not a liberating thing."
Heather Storer, a student at the University of California in Santa Cruz, predicts RU-486 will change the whole abortion controversy in America.
"It alters the scope of conflict around the abortion debate, shifting it from a public to a private issue," Miss Storer said. …