In 2022, reproductive rights in the USA are being challenged on both national and state levels. The restriction of the right of women to have autonomy over their bodies threatens to create a major crisis for those who are already in vulnerable positions. American colleges, as influential institutions that can have an impact on both national opinion and lawmaking, therefore, have an opportunity to defend and support reproductive rights. But only some colleges are proactively defending and supporting abortion access.
While abortion is controversial, an overwhelming majority of Americans support some form of legalized abortion. This further highlights why colleges should be defending the right to choose. Many education leaders have stated that one of the most important roles of institutions of higher education should be supporting people and society. Therefore, colleges that are supporting the majority of Americans who believe in some form of legalized abortion can demonstrate that they are attempting to benefit society.
This ranking has considered a wide range of pro-choice efforts that colleges are conducting. Some of the colleges ahead can demonstrate that they are supporting the reproductive freedom of their own students, while others can show they run initiatives that benefit the wider community. Colleges that can demonstrate the widest range of pro-choice activities have been given the highest rankings on this list.
Any student who wants to attend a college that is defending a woman’s right to control her body would benefit from attending one of the 30 colleges listed. But it’s also possible that none of these colleges are right for you. If that’s the case, then this ranking can still be a vital resource in your college search. Every entry has a detailed summary of what the college is doing to defend abortion access and support pro-choice causes. These have been included for you to compare and contrast with your own college options. If any college that you’re considering is conducting any of the reproductive rights activities of the colleges ahead, then that’s a strong indication that it’s a college worth attending.
Initial research for this ranking came from a range of sources that highlighted colleges that had been active in pro-choice efforts in recent years. Those sources are as follows:
- Insight Into Diversity, The Abortion Debate Affects Higher Education
- Times Higher Education, Scholars tipped to desert universities if US states ban abortion: n
- The Boston Globe, The next abortion battleground: campus health clinics
- Best Colleges, The Value of Promoting Reproductive Health on College Campuses
- Power To Decide, Addressing Sexual and Reproductive Health on College Campuses
- Diverse Issues In Higher Education, Abortion Access, and College Students
- Diverse Issues In Higher Education, How Abortion Care On Campus Can Help Students
- The Lily, Law schools are failing to prepare the next generation of leaders in reproductive rights and justice
To ensure that this list highlights a wide range of colleges that are fighting for reproductive rights, we then analyzed the approaches of colleges that the above sources consider to have strong pro-choice initiatives and identified further colleges with similar goals. These sources of these colleges are as follows:
After identifying colleges that support pro-choice initiatives within the above sources, we then conducted further research into these institutions. This research highlighted other reproductive freedom initiatives that the colleges are conducting. This research has formed the final basis for inclusion in this ranking.
Our ranking criteria are as follows: evidence of the college providing a wide range of support for pro-choice initiatives, evidence of colleges highlighting their commitment to reproductive freedom, colleges supporting the pro-choice movement in innovative ways, and aggregated rankings on the methodology lists.
The ranking, from 30 to one, is here:
30. Nova Southeastern University
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
In recent years, Nova Southeastern University has hosted a number of lectures that discuss abortion law, such as one that highlighted how societal stereotypes have informed lawmaking and another highlighting how pro-life and pro-choice politics have framed the abortion experience. These lectures were led by Associate Professor Vicki L. Toscano, whose research projects focus on, “reproductive rights law in the U.S. through the lens of constitutional jurisprudence and bioethical ideals.” Best Law Schools considers Nova Southeastern University to be the 13th best college for public health law.
29. Florida State University
In 2016, Florida State University College of Law Professor Mary Ziegler won the prestigious Thomas J. Wilson Memorial Prize for authoring the book, “After Roe: The Lost History of the Abortion Debate.” This book explores the contemporary polarization surrounding reproductive rights and presents a significant amount of research on the history of social-movement reactions to abortion laws. She has since published another book and a number of articles regarding reproductive rights. Professor Courtney Cahill is also an expert on the subject of reproductive rights. Diverse Education spoke to Professor Mary Ziegler to discuss the role of reproductive rights organizing on college campuses.
28. Indiana University Bloomington
The Student Health Center at Indiana University Bloomington states that it provides help to any student who needs to find an abortion provider or who has questions regarding the procedure. The college’s Center for Sexual Health also conducts a wide range of research regarding reproductive health behaviors. Additionally, the college’s School of Public Health also offers a graduate certificate and minor for Ph.D. students in sexual and reproductive health. Times Higher Education consults with an Indiana University Bloomington professor about the effect that abortion restrictions could have on higher education.
27. Hofstra University
Hempstead, New York
In the wake of the leak of the Supreme Court’s opinion to restrict abortion rights, Hofstra University associate professor of population health, Martine Hackett, has been vocal about the negative impact that such a decision would have on women. She has even discussed the issue on television news, where she highlighted how abortion restrictions will have disproportionate impacts on poor and minority women. The college also educates students on the barriers to reproductive health that women across the world face. Best Law Schools considers Hofstra University to be the 14th best college for public health law.
26. Coastal Carolina University
Conway, South Carolina
Students, faculty, and alumni at Coastal Carolina University have united to promote the pro-choice movement. For instance, these college community members have previously jointly attended the Women’s March in Washington DC, with reproductive rights being listed as a key reason for their participation. Power To Decide also highlights that Coastal Carolina University incorporates reproductive rights-focused initiatives into its events, with one example being its annual Wellness Palooza event. The college also provides support groups for students who have experienced an abortion.
25. University of Denver
A number of research projects at the University of Denver have focused on reproductive rights. For instance, a 2021 project focused on improving access to reproductive resources in underserved populations. Another 2021 research project worked to highlight reproductive healthcare disparities. Additionally, a University of Denver economist, Paula Cole, has been proactive in highlighting the dangers of abortion restrictions, which includes submitting materials that support this claim to the Supreme Court. Times Higher Education spoke to University of Denver Associate Professor Cecilia Orphan to discuss the damage that abortion restrictions will cause.
24. University of California, Hastings
San Francisco, California
One of the leading figures in reproductive justice advocacy at the University of California, Hastings is Professor Jennifer Dunn. Professor Dunn, who is also an alumnus of the college where she teaches, has been educating on reproductive health and justice since 2010. Prior to this role, she had worked as a counselor at Planned Parenthood and as a lawyer who litigated for health care rights. Many other professors within the college have been vocal about the importance of reproductive rights since the Supreme Court draft decision was leaked. One of these professors, Radhika Rao, has even spoken on the television network Bloomberg about abortion rights. US News considers the University of California, Hastings to be the 12th best health care law college.
23. University of Maryland, Baltimore
The Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences at the University of Maryland, Baltimore makes clear that induced abortion is part of its education. And recently, the president of the college, Bruce E. Jarrell, MD, recently led a discussion with three faculty members of the college’s school of law titled “Face to Face: Abortion Rights Under Attack.” US News considers the University of Maryland, Baltimore to be the sixth-best college for health care law. Best Law Schools names the college the 19th best for health law.
22. Mount Holyoke College
South Hadley, Massachusetts
A number of professors at Mount Holyoke College have supported measures that have expanded abortion access in Latin America. One example is Cora Fernandez Anderson, an assistant professor of politics who published the book “Fighting for Abortion Rights in Latin America: Social Movements, State Allies and Institutions.” Other professors, such as Romero-Diaz, have been successful in assisting students with gaining internships that promote sexual rights and reproductive justice in Latin American countries. Best Colleges notes that Mount Holyoke College is proactive in organizing reproductive rights-focused courses and campus events.
21. University of California, San Diego
San Diego, California
The Center on Gender Equity and Health at the University of California, San Diego conducts a range of work that supports reproductive health across the globe. In America specifically, it has produced studies on women who are unable to access abortion services due to a lack of health coverage. Abroad, it has launched a clinical intervention that aims to improve women’s reproductive autonomy in places such as Kenya. Best Law Schools states that the University of California, San Diego is the third best public health law school in America.
20. Widener University
Shortly after the Supreme Court draft opinion that would restrict abortion rights was leaked, Widener University psychology and gender, women, and sexuality studies Associate Professor Mariah Schug published an op-ed in the news website The Independent highlighting how forced pregnancies would lead to job discrimination. Additionally, a number of other faculty members of the college have been quoted in the media for their support of abortion rights, such as law professor John Culhane, who was quoted in The Guardian. The college also has a long history of supporting reproductive rights. For example, when Roe vs Wade, the law that legalized abortion, reached its 40th anniversary, the college held a symposium to discuss its effects. Best Law Schools considers Widener University to be the 15th best college for public health law.
19. Amherst College
A number of events at Amherst College have supported the pro-choice movement. One such example is a talk given by Loretta Ross, the founder of the modern-day reproductive justice movement. Another example is Reproductive Justice Week, which offered programming that empowered and supported students as well as educated them on abortion access, contraception, and safe birth access. The college’s student health services also provide, “free safe and confidential pregnancy testing, counseling and support including referrals for obstetric care and pregnancy termination.” Best Colleges notes that Amherst College organizes a strong range of reproductive-health-centered courses and events.
18. New York University
New York City, New York
The Lily highlights how New York University’s law school has an effective reproductive justice program. The Reproductive Justice Clinic and Advanced Reproductive Justice Clinic, “train students in the legal knowledge and skill required to secure fundamental liberty, justice, and equality for people across their reproductive lives.” The college’s Wagner School, which focuses on public service, also runs a course on reproductive rights advocacy. Shortly after the leaked Supreme court draft opinion ruling regarding the overturning of Roe vs Wade came to light, New York University’s founding dean of the School of Global Public Health, Doctor Cheryl Healton, published a piece that highlighted why the overturning of the law would lead to an increase in deaths.
17. Princeton University
Princeton, New Jersey
Princeton University has been responsible for hosting a number of events that highlight the importance of reproductive rights, such as a Reproductive Health Conference and book talks with authors who have published works regarding the experience of women who have to undergo abortions. The college’s health services also offer a wide range of solutions that support women who experience unwanted pregnancies, including emergency contraception, and counseling regarding abortion and adoption options. Insight Into Diversity also notes that abortion coverage is included in Princeton University’s health insurance offerings.
16. Hampshire College
Since 1981, Hampshire College has run a program named Collective Power for Reproductive Justice (originally called the Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program,) which has helped pro-choice activists. Today, its support comes in the form of offering students paid summer internships with activist groups, student-led workshops, and conference organizations. One of the most recent conferences it organized was the Collective Power for Reproductive Justice Conference, which engaged 300 campuses. Best Colleges highlights Hampshire College’s reproductive rights-focused programming and events.
15. Southern Methodist University
As Southern Methodist University’s student newspaper has highlighted, the college has previously organized programming that supports the notion that Christians can be pro-choice, such as an event called “Dialogue, Not Debate” which aimed to promote discussions by bringing together individuals with opposing beliefs, including a pro-choice senior minister of the First Unitarian Church of Dallas, Reverend Doctor Daniel Kanter. A strong proponent of reproductive rights at the college is the Endowed Chair in Women and Law, Joanna L. Grossman, who works to highlight the damage that abortion restrictions will incur. Diverse Issues In Higher Education discusses Grossman’s reproductive rights education at Southern Methodist University.
14. Drexel University
In late 2021, Drexel University hosted a symposium titled “Reproductive Injustice,” which highlighted how abortion rights were being threatened. Since this symposium took place, the college has continued to highlight reproductive rights issues, such as through the Championing Reproductive Justice: Advocacy Workshop. Additionally, David S. Cohen, who is a professor of law at the college, has conducted significant work that highlights issues within the abortion debate, which includes the publishing of two books, titled “Obstacle Course: The Everyday Struggle to Get an Abortion in America” and “Living in the Crosshairs: The Untold Stories of Anti-Abortion Terrorism.” Professor Cohen has continued to highlight the importance of abortion, such as by recently authoring an article regarding the upcoming legal issues relating to abortion pills. Best Law Schools considers Drexel University to be the eighth-best college for health law.
13. Georgia State University
In early 2022, Georgia State University published a working paper that highlighted the link between state abortion laws and maternal mortality, proving that in the pre-Roe vs Wade era, states with legalized abortion experienced between 30 to 40% lower non-white maternal mortality rates. Additionally, Tanya Washington, who is a law professor at Georgia State University, has been outspoken about the dangers of restricting abortion access. US News considers Georgia State University to be the joint third-best college for health care law. Best Law Schools considers the college to be the 16th best for public health law.
12. Smith College
The reproductive rights efforts at Smith College are led by Carrie N. Baker, a professor of American Studies and Women and Gender. She is a co-founder, steering committee member, and former co-director of the Five College Certificate in Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice. The Boston Globe highlights Carrie N. Baker’s study that revealed that between 600 and 1,380 state college students have medication abortions every single year. Diverse Issues in Higher Education also highlights Carrie N. Baker’s work. Best Colleges notes that Smith College organizes a wide range of reproductive health-centered efforts.
11. University of Massachusetts, Amherst
In early 2022, The Boston Globe announced that the University of Massachusetts, Amherst was going to start offering abortion medication at its health center from the fall 2022 semester onward. Best Colleges also notes that the University of Massachusetts, Amherst runs a range of reproductive health-centered courses and campus events. One example of these events was May 2022, an online discussion of reproductive rights which featured a number of experts on the issue. Examples of the experts who participated in this discussion include Tannuja Rozario, who founded the South Queens Women’s March, and Marisa Pizii, the deputy director of programs and policy at Collective Power for Reproductive Justice and co-chair of the Abortion Rights Fund of Western Massachusetts.
10. University of California, Irvine
A number of divisions within the University of California, Irvine work to promote reproductive rights. For example, the Reproductive Justice Initiative is led by the Center for Biotechnology and Global Health Policy. The college’s law school also runs the Reproductive Justice Clinic, which aims to promote reproductive health and the rights of women locally, nationally, and internationally. Lastly, the college’s Gynecologic and Reproductive Health Clinic offers students at the college a wide range of reproductive health services. The Lily notes that Michele Goodwin, the founder of the Center for Biotechnology and Global Health Policy, has also been proactive in highlighting the importance of reproductive justice in legal education.
9. University of Pennsylvania
One of the most important institutions that work to support reproductive rights at the University of Pennsylvania is the Center for Research on Reproduction and Women’s Health. This center works to advance the fields of reproduction and women’s health via interdisciplinary research, training, and the promotion of female well-being. Additionally, a range of community members from the college, ranging from professors to students, have been vocal in voicing their opposition to restrictions on reproductive rights, which has been consistent with college community statements that date to before the leaked Supreme Court draft decision regarding abortion rights. The college’s medical division is also proactive in providing reproductive services, with consideration of emotional needs being a key aspect of this care. The Lily also notes that the University of Pennsylvania’s law degrees has a strong focus on reproductive justice.
8. Northeastern University
The Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program at Northeastern University has previously run a symposium that highlights the importance of reproductive justice. More recently, the college published a range of pieces that argue for the importance of abortion access, such as one article that highlights journalism Professor Meg Heckman’s viewpoint that abortion rights should be considered healthcare and another that highlights law Professor Wendy Parmet’s view that US abortion restrictions could lead to overseas abortion restrictions. It has also recently arranged events with pro-choice leaders, such as Julie Rikelman, who works as the litigation director for The Center for Reproductive Rights. US News considers Northeastern University to be the joint seventh best college for health care law. Best Law Schools names it the 23rd best college for public health law.
7. Stanford University
The Division of Family Planning Services and Research within Stanford University provides a wide range of reproductive healthcare options, including comprehensive abortion care. Additionally, the college has also consistently highlighted the importance of abortion access. For instance, it has highlighted how when US foreign policy opposed organizations that provide reproductive services, it resulted in increased numbers of abortions due to the decreased access to contraception. Since the news that the US Supreme Court was likely to restrict abortion rights broke, Law Professor Bernadette Meyler has used the college’s legal podcast to discuss its implications. US News considers Stanford University to be the joint seventh best college for health care law. Best Law Schools names it the 18th best college for public health law.
6. Yale University
New Haven, Connecticut
The Reproductive Rights and Justice Project at Yale University gives students, “firsthand experience in fast-paced litigation and timely and strategic advocacy in a highly contested area of the law.” This project has also successfully defended abortion rights, such as in 2020, when it won a case against abortion restrictions against the US Department of Health and Human Services. The college’s Program for the Study of Reproductive Justice researches and develops new ideas to promote reproductive justice. The college’s Family Planning program also provides abortion care. US News considers Yale University to be the 11th best college for health care law.
5. University of Washington
The Reproductive Health & Advocacy Fellowship at the University of Washington aims to create medicine leaders who can provide reproductive health services in under-resourced settings across America. This includes work experience at abortion clinic sites in Washington State itself. Additionally, the Family Planning Clinic at UW Medical Center offers both medical and surgical abortions. In the aftermath of the news that the Supreme Court was likely to restrict abortion rights, a number of experts and departments have issued statements highlighting why reproductive rights are essential. These statements have also affirmed the college’s commitment to continue providing abortion education. Best Law Schools considers the University of Washington to have the second-best public health law education in America.
4. Harvard University
The T.H. Chan School of Public Health at Harvard University runs the Women and Health Initiative for Syrian Refugees in Jordan, with a focus on the sexual and reproductive health needs of this group. It is running this initiative in partnership with the Center for Women’s Studies at Jordan University and the Jordanian Hashemite Fund for Human Development. In the US, Harvard Law School professors have hosted a number of town halls in 2021 and 2022 which stress the importance of reproductive rights. Insight Into Diversity notes that abortion coverage is included in Harvard University’s student health insurance plans. Best Law Schools considers the college to be the 21st best for public health law. US News names it the second-best college for health care law.
3. University of California, San Francisco
San Francisco, California
The Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health at the University of California, San Francisco has the mission of integrating, “research, training, clinical care, and advocacy to advance reproductive autonomy, equitable and compassionate care, and reproductive and sexual health worldwide.” Thanks to this center’s work, new methods of abortion have been introduced into the medical field and the number of highly trained abortion providers has increased significantly. Diverse Education cites a University of California, San Francisco study that highlights that hundreds of students every month at the University of California and California State University colleges seek medication abortions.
2. Boston University
In early 2022, Boston University stated that it would continue to provide abortion education, regardless of the US Supreme Court’s decisions. At this time, the college stated that it believed that medical abortion would only become more important if abortion restrictions were enacted. Additionally, the college’s school of obstetrics and gynecology runs the Bringing Excellence to Abortion and Contraception Research Team, which aims to improve the reproductive health care that all women receive, in Boston and beyond. It also runs a health clinic specifically focused on the reproductive health of refugee women. The School of Public Health runs the Center for Health Law, Ethics & Human Rights, which has a focus on reproductive health. Insight Into Diversity notes that Boston University offers abortion coverage in its student health insurance plans. Best Law Schools considers Boston University to be the 17th best college for public health law in America. US News names it the fifth-best college for health care law.
1. University of California, Berkeley
The Center on Reproductive Rights and Justice at the University of California, Berkeley conducts a wide range of efforts that support the pro-choice movement. These include litigation support, policy advocacy, legal education, and the convening of activists. The college also runs the Reproductive Justice Project, a student-led legal service project which is supervised by the Center on Reproductive Rights and Justice. The college’s health services also assist students who become unexpectedly pregnant with abortion and adoption options. The Boston Globe notes that the University of California, Berkeley’s students have been successful in passing laws that ensure that California colleges have to provide abortion access. Best Colleges highlights the college’s family planning services. Times Higher Education spoke with a University of California, Berkeley professor to highlight how students will be impacted by abortion bans.