Your guide to a post-Roe CWRU

Milo Vetter, Staff Writer

As the academic year begins at Case Western Reserve University once more, everyone is itching to get settled in and get back to routine college life. Considering that CWRU’s COVID-19 policies are much more relaxed this year, first-year students and upperclassmen alike will get to enjoy a year that is more in line with the traditional college experience.

Unfortunately, the world isn’t the same as it was prior to the pandemic. This summer, the Supreme Court decision Dobbs v. Jackson overturned Roe v. Wade and launched legal battles over the right to abortion across the country. Some states, such as Michigan and Nebraska, are deciding via the legislatures and courts whether or not to enact a total ban on abortion. In other states, including Ohio, the law has been settled. Currently, abortion in Ohio is only legal until embryonic cardiac activity—mistakenly referred to as a heartbeat at times—is detected, usually occurring around six weeks into a pregnancy. However, the Republican-led Ohio legislature is likely to pass a total abortion ban later on this year.

So, what does this mean for us college students? Well, I’ll start with the obvious. If you aren’t already, you should absolutely be practicing safe sex. This goes for men as well —believe me, there are few things less attractive than whining about having to put on a condom. Then, of course, there’s the advice that no college student ever wants to hear: abstinence is the most effective form of contraception.

Another thing I’d like to stress is the importance of being prepared and having a plan in case of an unplanned pregnancy. People in Ohio are put in a particularly bad situation by a six-week abortion ban as it can take several weeks or even months for signs of pregnancy to become noticeable, especially for women who have irregular periods. This can put people in the horrible position of having only days to make the decision of whether or not to carry a pregnancy to term. And that’s without considering how long it takes to actually get access to an abortion. Imagine making the decision to abort a pregnancy, only to find out that you spent one too many days deciding, and now you have to carry the pregnancy to term anyway.

With that being said, it may be worth considering the situation ahead of time. If you become pregnant, would you want to carry it to term? If so, you would want to consider applying for pregnancy accommodation via the CWRU Office of Equity. If not, think about the steps you might take in order to get access to an abortion. Do you have friends or family willing to transport you out of state if you are more than six weeks pregnant? Having a conversation with them now may be awkward, but you might decide it’s worth having that plan already in place. 

The good news is CWRU provides resources for abortion-related services and reproductive health in general. There’s a reproductive health page on the CWRU website that contains information about the college’s reproductive health plan, as well as links and phone numbers to organizations that may be able to help. However, there is only so much help that these organizations can provide you. As we collectively enter uncharted territory regarding abortion, it is important that everyone vulnerable to the effects of an unwanted pregnancy—including men—be prepared and stay safe this year at CWRU.