- More than 500 athletes signed an amicus brief imploring the Supreme Court to protect abortion rights.
- The move comes as states across the country pass laws restricting women’s access to healthcare.
- Diana Taurasi, Megan Rapinoe, Sue Bird, Becky Sauerbrunn, and Breanna Stewart are among the signees.
Women’s sports superstars joined a group of more than 500 women’s athletes from various sports to urge the Supreme Court of the United States to protect “Roe v. Wade.”
As states across the country pass legislation to restrict women’s access to healthcare, Olympians, US Women’s National Team players and WNBA stars signed an amicus brief expressing their support for the constitutional right to abortion that was legalized via the landmark Supreme Court decision in 1973.
Megan Rapinoe, Becky Sauerbrunn, and Lynn Williams of the USWNT, Diana Taurasi, Layshia Clarendon, Sue Bird, Crystal Dangerfield, Brittney Griner, Nneka Ogwumike, Kelsey Plum, and Breanna Stewart of the WNBA, and the National Women’s Soccer League and WNBA players’ associations were among the signatories.
“As women athletes and people in sports, we must have the power to make important decisions about our own bodies and exert control over our reproductive lives,” Rapinoe said in a statement. “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.”
“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 added.
The highest court in the land scheduled to hear oral arguments in “Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization,” a potential challenge to Roe, on December 1. And with a 6-3 conservative majority, the current Supreme Court is well-positioned to overturn the longstanding ruling should the justices choose to do so.
The 500+ athletes who signed the amicus brief argue that “the physical body is a critical tool for athletes” and, as such, “athletic prowess depends on bodily integrity.” Women’s competitive sports would be compromised by such a sweeping ban on abortions, as would many “elite athletes’ futures and livelihoods.”
“High school and collegiate athletes use their bodies not only to compete, but also to secure higher education through recruiting opportunities and athletic scholarships that may be otherwise unobtainable,” the brief states. “Professional athletes use their bodies for their livelihoods, including to access lucrative sponsorships and advertising opportunities.”
“The physical tolls of forced pregnancy and childbirth would undermine athletes’ ability to actualize their full human potential,” it continues.
Crissy Perham (née Ahmann-Leighton), the captain of the 1992 Olympic swim team who won two Olympic gold medals during her career, chose to offer support for the brief by sharing her own abortion story publicly for the first time. In a statement, she explained that despite taking
, she accidentally became pregnant while she was in college on a swimming scholarship at the University of Arizona.
Rather than giving up her swimming career and, potentially, her scholarship, Perham “made the very personal decision to have an abortion, which empowered me to take control of my future,” she said.
“Others may have made a different decision in that situation, but my decision ultimately allowed me to become an Olympian, a college graduate, and a proud mother today,” Perham added. “That is what I’m fighting for — for everyone to be afforded the freedom to make their own decisions about their bodies.”
Clarendon, a point guard for the Minnesota Lynx who uses all pronouns, signed the brief with a similar concern for bodily autonomy. They said in a statement that he views efforts to ban abortion as “a targeted attack on our most basic right to have agency over our bodies.”
“It is my absolute honor to stand with this group of amateur and professional athletes in support of access to vital health services,” she added. “I’ve seen firsthand how critical a role high-quality, compassionate medical care can play in the life of an athlete, and that is something I am prepared to defend with everything I have.”