Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.
Life

If Young Women Aren’t MIA On Abortion Rights, Where Are They?

I read Sarah Seltzer’s recent Sisterhood blog post, “An Intergenerational Battle Over Abortion,” with interest. And I’m wondering if there’s any evidence to support her supposition that young women do support abortion rights, and their contributions to the movement are unappreciated. Aside from citing one young woman frustrated with not being appreciated at a NARAL Pro Choice America conference, Sarah doesn’t offer information to back her claim that the conventional wisdom is wrong.

Do NARAL or Planned Parenthood have a breakdown, by age, of their volunteers or donors? Do the numbers back Sarah’s point?

The strongest, and most unfortunate, evidence that I see that young women are not very interested in activism to keep abortion legal is that, according to this article on Feministing, a leading organization in the reproductive justice movement, The Pro Choice Public Education Project has closed its doors for lack of funding. The organization’s primary constituency? Young women.

Now, I don’t think that the federally protected right to have an abortion faces imminent overturning, but is that what it would take that to rally young women to be more vocal about the issue?

Perhaps it’s time to re-think how the abortion is framed by pro-choice advocates in the public debate. After all, much that’s relevant has changed in the last decade alone.

I wonder how the availability of over-the-counter “morning-after” contraception has changed the way young women think about abortion. After all, it’s only been since 1999 that “Plan B” has been available, and just since 2006 that it’s been available without a prescription.

With the advent of pee-stick pregnancy tests available at every drug store, and Plan B to use even before a pregnancy test could be positive, much of the anxiety that older women faced in the past, as they waited to see if they’d get their period and then to decide what to do about an unwanted pregnancy, is now gone. Perhaps that anxiety fueled some of the activism.

The idea of a woman’s right to privacy on this most personal of decisions — the principal on which the majority decision on Roe v. Wade is based — also seems at odds with the current culture. Few people under the age of 30 seem to want privacy anymore. Rather many Tweet and update their Facebook status about every aspect of their lives. (I know someone, who I’m considering de-friending on FB, who posted what seemed like hourly updates after she had her wisdom teeth removed — and then put up a picture of her bruised healing face. It was TMI!)

Perhaps it’s time to come up with ways to re-frame the abortion issue in a way that will more successfully resonate with 20- and 30-something women. It’s definitely time for them to step up to the plate and put their energy and money into supporting the cause.

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.