Terrified, elated, anxious

Young people on campuses had a lot to say about living in a world where the right to abortion is not guaranteed

The nation’s 17 million college students have confronted a new and chaotic reality on campus this fall: a fast-changing legal landscape and entirely new norms in the wake of the Dobbs decision on abortion. For some, the changes are joyful, a protection of human life. For others, they are terrifying, pushing them to consider scenarios that would have been unthinkable just months ago, such as having to drop out of school if they became pregnant.

For this story, The Washington Post partnered with student journalists in Arizona, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, Texas, Indiana and D.C. to help solicit voices from across the country.

Their responses were nuanced and widely varied, reflecting the diversity of the student population and the tremendous legal uncertainty.

One of the students elated by the ruling said she wept at the prospect of so many babies’ lives being saved. Some students spoke of their intensified fears of rape. Many were furious and said they would focus their energy on protests and politics. Students in medical fields wondered how their education might shift. Some worried about the possibility of reprisals for speaking out. In those cases, The Washington Post abbreviated the last names.

Here’s what they said: