Gianna Balsamo was sitting on her couch in her Bridgeport living room Friday morning and scrolling through Instagram when she saw the news.
“My heart dropped,” said Balsamo in a phone interview. “I thought it was a joke because I could not believe what I just read.”
With the Supreme Court vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision guaranteeing a constitutional right to an abortion, Balsamo was one of the many young people grappling Friday with the new reality of living in a post-Roe America.
Balsamo, now 18 and an incoming sophomore at the University of Hartford, got an abortion when she was 15. She said she can’t imagine what it would be like to go through the same experience now.
“You’re already nervous and scared of what’s going to happen. And then, on top of that, you can’t even legally get it. It’s just … [there are] no words,” she said.
On the university’s West Hartford campus Friday, young people overwhelmingly expressed anger and sadness about the overturning of Roe.
Kamden Torres, a senior who identifies as a trans man, pointed out that the decision doesn’t only impact people who identify as women, but anyone with a uterus.
“I also am someone who could need [an abortion and to] not be able to have one is heartbreaking,” they said. Torres also acknowledged that living without the right to an abortion represents a new reality for them and other young people across the country.
“It’s something that I didn’t think I would have to worry about at 21,” said Torres.
Some students expressed gratitude that they live in a state where reproductive rights are prioritized. During the most recent session, legislators passed a bill that broadened access to abortion and strengthened legal protections for people seeking the procedure.
In a statement released today, Governor Lamont said the Supreme Court’s decision would “result in dangerous and life-threatening situations similar to what this country witnessed countless times in the era prior to the landmark Roe case.”
“I feel privileged to live in a state where my rights are more protected, at least for now,” said Allena, a grad school student who asked that she be identified by her first name. “But as a queer person, I’m scared for what comes next.”
But, overwhelmingly, young people conveyed a deep fear for the future of the country.
“I feel like the country is headed in a place where my values don’t align,” said Allena. “[It’s] sort of like a nightmare.”
Katie and Elizabeth, both 23 and on campus to work summer jobs, said the decision makes them dread the direction in which the country is headed.
“It feels like we’re going backwards,” said Katie, who is getting her master’s degree in school counseling. “I don’t see why older white men have a right to say what we can or cannot do with our bodies. It doesn’t affect you.”
Elizabeth, who works as an elementary school teacher, said the Supreme Court’s abortion decision, coming in the wake of a wave of mass shootings that have gone unaddressed, adds insult to injury.
“Guns are more protected than women’s rights,” she said. “These children are dying, and no one is doing anything about it. That could have been my class that died.”
“[I] definitely don’t have high hopes for the future,” she added.