For Immediate Release

May 8, 2023

Contact: William Lutz 202-785-5100

For the Class of 2023 in the Northeast, State Abortion Laws are a Key Factor in College Decisions, According to a New Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) Poll

WASHINGTON, D.C. — State laws banning abortion are becoming a factor for students in the northeast considering attending college out of state. A recent poll commissioned by IWPR and conducted by Morning Consult found that seventy-six (76) percent of students polled do not want to attend school in a state where abortion is restricted. Three-quarters of parents polled prefer their child to attend school in a state without restrictions.

“Abortion bans are affecting where students feel comfortable living and learning,” said Daisy Chin-Lor, President and CEO of IWPR. “They do not want to go to states that restrict their reproductive health choices, and their parents do not want to support states that limit women’s freedom. This dynamic has serious implications for colleges and universities, particularly those in abortion ban states that traditionally have a lot of out-of-state students.”

The poll was conducted with roughly 1,000 students and parents in nine states in the Northeast region of the US. The poll focused on this region because it has the highest share of students who leave their state for college: 45 percent, compared to 26 percent in the Midwest and West, and 25 percent in the South (NCES, 2020). In addition, abortion is legal in all nine states, meaning students moving to restricted states would be giving up abortion access they currently have. States polled include CT, MA, ME, NH, NJ, NY, PA, RI and VT.

Key Poll Findings:

  • Seventy-six (76) percent of students polled prefer to go to college in a state where abortion is legal and accessible.
  • One hundred (100) percent of parents contributing financially and 48 percent of parents not contributing financially to college costs prefer their child to go to college in a state where abortion is legal and accessible.
  • Eighty-four (84) percent of students and 69 percent of parents do not want the student to be without abortion access while at college.
  • A majority of parents (78 percent) and students (85 percent) polled are concerned about the future of access to reproductive health care in the U.S., with over half of students (56 percent) indicating they are very concerned.

While the decision of where to attend college still involves practical considerations like areas of study and cost, the poll also found that values-based considerations are top of mind for parents and students:

  • Seventy-five (75) percent of parents and 82 percent of students do not want to put their money into a state that bans abortion.
  • Seventy-seven (77) percent of parents and 85 percent of students do not want to support a state government that bans abortion.
  • Sixty-seven (67) percent pf parents and 71 percent of students consider social policies in the state where the school is located.
  • Ninety-five (95) percent of parents and 91 percent of students said the values of the school are important.

“The overturn of Roe was cruel. It shredded the legal fabric of women’s rights and denied them a basic freedom, jeopardizing their health in the process,” Chin-Lor said. “Now we are seeing the impact of that decision trickle down into virtually all aspects of society, including the economic and social consequences that will be felt by states that ban abortion. Parents and students are terrified about the future of access to reproductive healthcare in the United States. Colleges and universities need to speak up about the importance of reproductive freedom before the safety and autonomy of their students are further harmed by extreme state governments.”

Many states that have implemented severe abortion restrictions since the overturn of Roe v. Wade could see significant changes in their enrollment numbers, as students from states that have access to abortion reconsider their options. An analysis by IWPR found that five states with abortion bans and/or heavy restrictions have at least 25 percent of their college students coming from states without restrictions: Wisconsin has twenty-five (25) percent of students coming from out of state, West Virginia (30 percent), Idaho (30 percent), and South Dakota (36 percent). Arizona, which has a 15-week ban (and a complete ban dating from 1864 still on the books that has been blocked by the courts), has 28 percent of students coming from non-ban states, while Florida, which recently enacted a six-week abortion, has nearly ten (10) percent. Based on IWPR’s research, all these states could potentially see a drop in out-of-state college and university enrollment due to their extreme positions on women’s reproductive freedom.

The Institute for Women’s Policy Research strives to win economic equity for all women and eliminate barriers to their full participation in society. As a leading national think tank, IWPR builds evidence to shape policies that grow women’s power and influence, close inequality gaps, and improve the economic well-being of families. Learn more at and follow us on Twitter.