Will Overturning Roe v. Wade Impact School Dropout Rates?

Some school officials are worried that the overturning of Roe v Wade will impact high school drop out rates.

By Erika Hanson | Published

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Roe v Wade

The landmark, historic supreme court decision in place since 1973 that gave women the constitutional right to an abortion, and therefore to choose for themselves if they wanted to go through with a pregnancy, was overturned by judges on the supreme court late last week. The decision to overturn Roe v Wade is being hailed by some, while others are absolutely enraged at the ruling. Even on the school level, pro-abortion advocates are worried about the impact this decision may have on high school students, as many fear that it will only increase dropout rates for teenage girls.

K12 Dive writes about these worries felt by many education leaders, especially in states where abortion is being criminalized. Teenage birth rates have actually seen a steady decline over the last two decades, however, some fear that with Roe v Wade now overturned, these statistics will over time raise the number of teenagers having kids. This, in turn, could affect dropout and graduation rates for students.

Backing up this notion, a 2015 study researched unwed pregnant teens from 1940 to 1968 – before Roe v Wade was ruled on. This group of students was 16% more likely to drop out of high school compared to their peers, and those who miscarried. Even though the world has changed immensely since these pregnant teenagers were investigated, many experts fear a similar trend is headed for America. 

In reversing Roe v Wade, the decision doesn’t necessarily make all abortions illegal. Instead, it gives each individual state the ability to make it so. Eight states banned abortion the day the supreme court made the decision. So far, 13 Republican states with what is called “trigger bans” are reported to be making abortion illegal in every instance within the next 30 days. The Washington Post reported that less than half of all states are expected to protect abortion rights. 

In grave statistics, it is reported that only about 40% of pregnant moms graduate from high school. Similarly, nearly one-third of them drop out before their senior year. Considering the declining state of public education in general, the Roe v Wade decision is worrying to many. School statistics still haven’t recovered from detrimental findings. As some fear that pregnant teen dropout rates will become worse in states where these young mothers are forced to go through with their pregnancy because of state law, schools across the nation are already reeling from lower graduation rates

Making this more problematic, dropout rates negatively impact the workforce and economy. A study from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) found that the average high school dropout costs the economy about $272,000 over the student’s lifetime. This is an example of the possibly trickling, negative effects of overturning Roe v Wade. 

Roe v Wade

Still, there is hope for many, as schools vow to continue efforts to support pregnant teen moms regardless of how Roe v Wade ended. Over the last few decades, schools across the nation have ramped up efforts to support these individuals, and keep them in school heading towards their high school diploma. Many high schools offer daycare, and even door-to-door transportation for them and their children. Similarly, many people point out that these teens can still travel to states where abortion is still legal, if they so choose, regardless of how difficult this can be for young, struggling, students.