America's Youth Mull Potential High Court Changes Over Abortion
A possible challenge to Roe v. Wade, a Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in the United States in 1973, has young people considering how it might impact their lives.
Justice Amy Coney Barrett, a conservative judge from Indiana who was appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court Monday evening, has previously disagreed with the decision, as well as the Affordable Care Act, which provides many women with free or low-cost contraception.
Among 18- to 29-year-old Americans, 70% support abortion rights, according to a 2019 Pew Research Center study. Among all ages, 60% of Americans support legalized abortions.
“I am scared, because a threat to Roe v. Wade means a threat to women's rights over their own body,” Zoe Tishaev, a freshman at Duke University in North Carolina, told VOA. “It means a threat to the rights of women to make choices. For me, it is a direct threat to my autonomy to make choices.”
By comparison, 55% of Americans 65 and older support legal abortion.
Kristi Hamrick, spokesperson for Students for Life of America, said in an email to VOA that she believes Roe v. Wade needs to be “reviewed, reversed and returned to the states.”
“A flawed understanding of someone else’s humanity may have allowed a bad law to come into existence,” said Hamrick. “But later generations past put a stop to the injustice when they considered the impact of bad laws on real people. That will happen for the preborn, dehumanized by Roe.”
Future of Roe
Barrett publicly opposed abortion in 2006 in an anti-abortion letter and ad in the South Bend Tribune, calling for “an end to the barbaric legacy of Roe v. Wade.” South Bend is in Barrett’s home state, Indiana.
In 2016, the most recent tally, 623,471 abortions were performed in the U.S. and reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Abortion rates in the U.S. fell to their lowest point that year since abortion was legalized in 1973, according to the CDC.
As contraceptive use among women increased from 2000 and 2019, abortion rates declined.
“Personally, I think the ruling of Roe v. Wade was misguided in the first place, since it ignored the rights protected for all persons under the 14th Amendment,” said Sam Sparks, a student at Wheaton College, who said he was “very happy” with Barrett’s appointment.
“No one should be forced to carry the burden of a child they are unable to care for,” Tishaev, from Duke University, said. “Roe v. Wade was liberating for thousands and thousands of women across the United States. To take that away is not just regression, it is oppression, and a systemic stripping of rights.”
“As a Black woman, I view the potential challenge of Roe v. Wade as an attack on reproductive rights, and I feel that the government's encroachment of our rights to bodily autonomy is disgusting,” said Adetoyosi Atewologun, a junior at Boston College.
Atewologun told VOA that overturning the law could have a “devastating psychological effect” on some young women and how they view themselves if abortion were not accessible.
Barrett was appointed to fill the seat of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died in September.
Ginsburg spent a career focusing on women’s rights and once said she found the Roe decision flawed. She said it should have been based on gender equality instead of privacy.
“The court wrote an opinion that made every abortion restriction in the country illegal in one fell swoop, and that was not the way that the court ordinarily operates,” Ginsburg said in an interview with Bloomberg in 2019. She believed the decision, as written, left the ruling open to attack by abortion opponents.
On Friday, the full Supreme Court of nine justices will decide whether to hear a Mississippi case that bans abortions after 15 weeks. It is seen as a case that could directly challenge the Roe v. Wade decision.
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Proposal Would Remove Student Aid for Those Who Support Some Palestinian Groups
A Florida lawmaker has proposed eliminating scholarships, tuition breaks and fee waivers for students who are suspected of “promoting terrorist organizations.”
According to WOKV television, the bill appears to be in line with Florida efforts to disband pro-Palestinian groups on college campuses. (November 2023)
US Lawmakers Grill University Presidents About On-Campus Antisemitism
The presidents of Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology were questioned by House lawmakers on Tuesday over whether their administrations are doing enough to combat the wave of antisemitism that has swept their campuses as the Israel-Hamas war rages.
Republican Representative Virginia Foxx said the three presidents were called to testify because “we heard in particular that the most egregious situations have occurred on these campuses.”
Claudine Gay, president of Harvard University, faced particularly difficult lines of questioning from congressional Republicans, including one fraught exchange with Representative Elise Stefanik, who demanded that Gay resign.
Stefanik, a Harvard alumnus herself, grilled Gay over whether the university would rescind admission offers to students who support Hamas’ murderous beliefs.
Gay pushed back, saying she would not commit to punishing students simply for expressing their views, even if she finds them “personally abhorrent,” apparently reversing university policy.
In 2017, Harvard reneged on admission offers for 10 would-be students after it came out that they circulated racist memes in a group chat.
The theme of Gay’s testimony was her dual commitment to “combating hate while preserving free expression.”
Gay said her administration would only punish “hateful, reckless, offensive speech” when it crosses the line into physical violence or targeted harassment.
Foxx, the panel’s chair, railed against Gay and the other university leaders, claiming that “institutional antisemitism and hate are among the poisoned fruits of your institutions’ cultures."
Republican lawmakers repeatedly criticized progressivism and tied it to antisemitism in higher education.
All three university presidents outlined their strategies for ensuring student safety and open discourse on the Israel-Hamas war.
"As an American, as a Jew, and as a human being, I abhor antisemitism. And my administration is combating it actively,” Sally Kornbluth, president of MIT, said, adding that “problematic speech needs to be countered with other speech and education.”
Kornbluth said free speech that promotes harassment or incites violence is not protected by the university, but those who try to shut down campus protests are essentially advocating for unworkable “speech codes."
Harvard and UPenn have struggled. Both schools found themselves under investigation by the Department of Education over complaints of antisemitism on campus.
“This is difficult work, and I know I have not always gotten it right,” Gay said of her efforts to promote free speech and inclusion. She noted the difficulty of balancing the concerns of different groups, including Harvard’s Muslim community, which Gay noted faces the threat of rising Islamophobia.
“During these difficult days, I have felt the bonds of our community strained,” Gay told lawmakers.
UPenn President M. Elizabeth Magill came under fire for the Palestine Writes Festival, an event hosted at her university in September that was a flashpoint of antisemitism, according to a complaint submitted to the Department of Education.
Magill condemned antisemitic rhetoric at the festival but maintained that measures had been instituted to ensure student safety.
The presidents made clear to the Republican-run House Committee on Education and the Workforce that their schools have taken steps to prevent harassment and bullying, including public announcements.
The president of Columbia was invited but did not attend, citing a scheduling conflict, Foxx’s office said.
November polling by the Anti-Defamation League and Hillel found that, since Oct. 7, 46% of Jewish students felt safe at their colleges, a marked drop from 67% before the war. Students across the nation said they were wary of walking around their campuses wearing a Star of David necklace, kippah or other emblems of Judaism.
In late October, an upperclassman at Cornell was taken into federal custody after allegedly making online posts promising to kill any and every Jew he saw on campus.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations and other advocacy groups reported that hate crimes against Muslim students were also on the rise.
Last month, a white man allegedly shot three Palestinian American college students in Burlington, Vermont. And, at Stanford, an Arab student was struck in a hit-and-run as the driver shouted, “F— you people!” according to witnesses.
Pro-Palestinian protesters have been doxxed — their names and pictures paraded around their campuses on mobile billboard trucks — in what activists say are attempts to intimidate them into silence.
China the No. 1 Country Sending Students to US, Data Show
China, India and South Korea sent the most students to the U.S. in 2023, according to Open Doors 2023 Report on International Educational Exchange. Open Doors is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State.
Among other things, the report broke down the schools with the largest number of international students. New York University took the top spot, with Northeastern University, Columbia University, Arizona State University and the University of Southern California rounding out the top five. Get the stats here. (November 2023)
International Students Boosted US Economy by $40 Billion in 2022-23
In the 2022-23 academic year, more than 1 million international students were in the U.S., and they contributed more than $40 billion to the U.S. economy, Forbes reports.
That figure's up 19% from the previous academic year, according to NAFSA: Association for International Educators.
Read the full story here. (November 2023)