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Higher Education and Pregnancy: Sometimes at Odds

“I can’t be pregnant and keep my scholarship,” the young woman told her Advocate. “I have to abort.”

And she did.

Amanda came to True Care recently, and because she felt she had to choose between going to college and carrying her unborn to term, she had an abortion. Her situation is not uncommon.

Last year a young college student walked into a pregnancy help clinic in Indiana. She listed many reasons she thought she needed to abort, one of which was continuing her education. Fortunately, she shared her pregnancy news with her parents, and they encouraged her to carry to term. She changed her mind about abortion and is now continuing her college education.

According to Feminists for Life, pregnant and single moms are an underserved population in higher education.  A few years ago, the organization began providing funds to help these women obtain a degree.

The U.S. Census Bureau reports that 80 percent of single-parent households are headed by women, and 40 percent of children in such a situation live in poverty. Therefore, higher education for pregnant and single moms is vital to lift both out of poverty.

There are other scholarship opportunities for women who are pregnant or who are single mothers, including the Jeannette Rankin Foundation Scholarship, given to older, low-income women who recognize the value of a college degree, Scholarships 4 Moms, awarded to pregnant women or women who are mothers, whether single or married, and Women’s Independence Scholarship Program, designed for survivors of intimate partner abuse. 

According to a 2014 Guttmacher Institute report, more than 40 percent of Planned Parenthood clients either were attending college or had some college education and another 35 percent were in or had graduated high school. These students need to know they can still get an education while pregnant or parenting. Their education can be obtained online or on campus. Still, the pressures are out there, and colleges often do not make it easy for these women.

A recent study by Tufts University indicates women find it difficult to be pregnant while attending veterinary school. According to an article on the website DVM360, “The researchers were testing the hypothesis that ‘potential parents, and especially women, may delay having children because administrative policies and support services for pregnancy and parenting at veterinary training institutions are rare.’”

“Despite being a female-dominated field, it appears there are some pretty significant barriers to parenthood for women,” said Megan Mueller, MA, PhD, a Tufts professor and research co-author. Without support from institutions of higher learning and/or family members, young women will likely continue to see abortion as their only option.

True Care implemented a new program last year called Adopt-A-College-Student. Several of our donors have stepped forward to assist and encourage pregnant women from our community who have chosen life for their babies and who wish to continue their education. Thus far, nearly 12 young moms have received funds for text books, encouraging notes from their “sponsors,” and special gifts for the holidays. We plan to continue this important, supportive program next fall. If you’re interested in adopting a college student during the fall 2019 semester, contact Cheryl, our Resource Coordinator, at 307-472-2810. A minimum financial commitment of $50 to help buy a textbook is required.

Providing resources to pregnant high school and college-age women is essential in saving unborn lives. Those resources include helping them find financial and emotional support. Making colleges and universities aware of the pressures these women face is also critical. Together, as a community, we can positively impact the lives of moms and their children.

Tags: pregnancy, abortion, going to school while pregnant, attending college while pregnant, scholarships for single moms, scholarships for pregnant women

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