Nothing is more important to the career of a female athlete than the unfettered ability to have an abortion, according to a coterie of female athletes led by national anthem protester and LGBT activist Megan Rapinoe of the U.S. women’s soccer team.
The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on Dec. 1 concerning a Mississippi law that bans abortions after a baby is 15 weeks old. In its legal battle, Mississippi has said the Roe v. Wade ruling that allowed abortion was wrong and should not be used to block states from creating their own standards.
In response, more than 500 female athletes and groups of athletes, including pro sports unions, signed an amicus brief that urged the court to reject Mississippi’s law.
The list includes 26 Olympians and 73 professional athletes, according to Reuters.
“I am honored to stand with the hundreds of athletes who have signed onto this Supreme Court brief to help champion not only our constitutional rights, but also those of future generations of athletes,” Rapinoe said in a statement, according to USA Today.
“Physically, we push ourselves to the absolute limit, so to have forces within this country trying to deny us control over our own bodies is infuriating and un-American and will be met with fierce resistance,” she said.
The brief said that without abortion to rely upon, “the physical tolls of forced pregnancy and childbirth would undermine athletes’ ability to actualize their full human potential.”
“If the State compelled women athletes to carry pregnancies to term and give birth, it could derail women’s athletic careers, academic futures, and economic livelihoods at a large scale,” the brief said.
The brief said the athletes supporting abortion “believe that an athlete should not be forced to continue a pregnancy while pursuing athletic competition, as these two physical endeavors may often be at odds.”
The brief portrays abortion as the underpinning of everything women have achieved in sports.
“Without Roe’s constitutional protection of women’s bodily integrity and decisional autonomy, women would not have been able to take advantage of Title IX and achieve the tremendous level of athletic participation and success that they enjoy today,” the brief said. “Continued protection of women’s fundamental rights is crucial to women’s continued success in sports, and in all areas of life.”
The amicus brief quotes track star Sanya Richards-Ross as saying, “Most of the women I knew in my sport have had at least one abortion.”
It indicates that athletes at any age need abortion to remain legal. “The complexity behind the ‘right time’ to have a child also arises for high school and collegiate athletes, since they have only four to eight years to take advantage of the immense benefits of organized sports,” the brief says.
Those who signed it indicated they were “united in their deeply-held belief that women’s athletics could not have reached its current level of participation and success without the constitutional rights recognized in Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973) and Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey, 505 U.S. 833 (1992).”
In addition to Rapinoe, the brief is signed by athletes including basketball stars Diana Taurasi, Breanna Stewart and Sue Bird, who is engaged to Rapinoe.
Former Olympic swimmer Crissy Perham said her abortion was vital to her career. In the text of the brief, Perham, who won a gold medal in the 1992 Summer Games, she had an abortion after accidentally becoming pregnant in college despite being on birth control.
I’m proud to be one of 500 athletes asking the Supreme Court to protect the future of #Row. I’m standing up for reproductive rights. @ReproRights #BansOffOurBodies https://t.co/PHei3ISzfC
— Crissy (@CrissyPerham) September 20, 2021
“My life would be drastically different if I had been pregnant and forced to sit that [national championship] race out, because that race changed the course of my life,” Perham wrote of her NCAA title competition while at the University of Arizona.
“I made the choice that was right for me and my future, and I stand by my decision. That choice ultimately led me to being an Olympian, a college graduate, and a proud mother today,” she wrote.