Young women are putting their foot down about safe sex post-Roe

Wayne State sociology instructor Christina Carney says her students are angry about the ruling, and are increasingly prioritizing their own health over pursuing sexual relationships.

Christina Carney at the WDET studios in August 2022.

Earlier this summer the Supreme Court officially overturned Roe v. Wade, which protected federal abortion rights, leaving some states to enact abortion bans and other states like Michigan fighting to defend the right to choose.

Related: Detroit Evening Report, August 19, 2022: Michigan judge temporarily bans criminalizing abortions

But regardless of what state you live in, the Supreme Court ruling had an effect on how we think about our relationships. It sparked headlines like “Gen Z reconsiders sex in the wake of a post-Roe world” and “They don’t agree on abortion. Can the relationship survive post-Roe?

It has couples asking each other important questions about how they feel about safe sex and abortions and singles are raising their expectations of what they want from a partner. To talk about all this, CultureShift spoke with Christina Carney, a doctoral student and instructor of sociology at Wayne State University.

She says that her students are angry about the ruling, and are increasingly prioritizing their own health over pursuing sexual relationships.

“It should be noted that this generation is not having as much sex as previous generations,” Carney says. “They’re already pushing sex to the back burner. It’s not a top priority for them.”

It will be a while before significant research is available about the effects of Roe being overturned, but anecdotal evidence already suggests an increased interest in contraception among young women. Those who do choose to be sexually active are more adamant about using condoms than previous generations because unlike them, their access to legal abortions is now more restricted depending on where they live.

“This was never the case previously. We know the narrative surrounding men and condom use, everything that they have to say, why they don’t want to do it. And at some point, women just kind of give in when they’re in a sexual encounter. Now, they’re just putting their foot down. They’re like, ‘I’m not taking this risk.’”

Listen: Sociology instructor talks post-Roe cultural and financial impact and changing gender expectations.


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  • Ryan Patrick Hooper
    Ryan Patrick Hooper is the award-winning host of "In the Groove" on 101.9 WDET-FM Detroit’s NPR station. Hooper has covered stories for the New York Times, NPR, Detroit Free Press, Hour Detroit, SPIN and Paste magazine.