More than 500 current and former female athletes urged the US Supreme Court on Monday to dismiss a Mississippi law that would prohibit abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
In an amicus brief filed on Monday, the athletes cited the importance of “physical integrity and decision-making autonomy” for their individual careers and women’s sports as a whole. The list of signers includes 26 Olympians, 73 professional athletes, 276 college athletes and some of the biggest names in the women’s sport – from US soccer star Megan Rapinoe to WNBA legends Sue Bird, Brenna Stewart and Diana Taurasi.
Players’ associations of the WNBA and NWSL also signed briefs.
“I am honored to stand with the hundreds of athletes who have signed this Supreme Court brief to support not only our constitutional rights, but future generations of athletes,” Rapinoe said in a statement.
“Physically, we push ourselves to the absolute limit, so the forces within this country trying to deprive us of control over our bodies is infuriating and un-American and there will be fierce resistance.”
Athletes filed their amicus brief in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, in which the Supreme Court is set to consider the constitutionality of a Mississippi law banning abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Oral arguments are scheduled for December 1.
The case would serve as the first direct examination of Roe v. Wade under the Supreme Court’s new conservative majority. The landmark 1973 case legalized abortion across the country, while a separate decision in 1992 (Planned Parenthood v. Casey) guaranteed women’s right to an abortion before the fetus survived outside the womb, often around 24 weeks. is determined in.
In their amicus brief, the athletes argue that additional abortion restrictions — such as those outlined in the Mississippi law — would have widespread consequences on women’s sports and “undermine the fundamental rights of athletes.”
In one of several first-person statements in a nutshell, former Team USA swimmer and Olympic gold medalist Chrissy Parham reveals she had a miscarriage after accidentally becoming pregnant in college, despite being on birth control. She won a national title that summer, qualified for the 1992 Summer Games in Barcelona and won three Olympic medals, including two golds.
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“If I had been pregnant and forced to drop out of that (national championship) race, my life would have been very different, because that race changed the course of my life,” Peram wrote.
“I made the choice that was right for me and my future, and I stand by my decision. That choice ultimately led me to become an Olympian, a college graduate, and a proud mom I am today.”
Athletes also argue that the infringement on abortion care has broader Title IX implications, citing a direct link between reproductive rights and gender equality.
“If the state forces female athletes to conceive and give birth, it could massively derail women’s athletic careers, educational futures and economic livelihoods,” they summarize.
“Such a fundamental restriction on bodily integrity and human autonomy would never be imposed on a male athlete, although he would be equally responsible for the pregnancy.”
Joanna Wright, the lead attorney for women, told USA Today Sports that the stakes “couldn’t be higher” in the Mississippi case.
If the Supreme Court ruling weakens or reverses the Roe v. Wade ruling, she said, it could enable more than a dozen other states to follow similar restrictions. She described that prospect as “a dire situation for all women”, athletes among them.
“For many women, sports and their athletic prowess are the ticket to college education — and, for elite athletes, access to building a livelihood, whether through athletic sponsorship or advertising opportunities,” Wright said.
“I think athletes in particular, and the more than 500 Emmys who have signed on, understand the enormous importance of autonomy to make decisions on their bodies. They use it as a tool of their own craft. “
Contribution: Nancy Armor