Over 500 female athletes unite and urge Supreme Court to protect abortion rights

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Ashleigh Johnson of the United States competes in the women’s water polo gold medal match between Spain and the United States at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan on August 7, 2021 (Photo by Xia Yifang / Xinhua via Getty Images)

On September 20, more than 500 former and current athletes, as well as coaches and player unions from the WNBA and NWSL, filed a brief with the United States Supreme Court as it prepares to hear a case involving an abortion ban in Mississippi after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The Supreme Court will hear this case on december 1, and it directly calls into question the protections put in place by Roe vs. Wade. As NPR reports, the case “tests whether all state laws that prohibit pre-viability abortions are unconstitutional. “(Fetal viability is the point at which the baby can survive outside the womb.)

Signings from top athletes include that of Olympian and two-time World Cup champion with USWNT Megan Rapinoe, five-time Olympic gold medalist in women’s basketball Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird, vice president of the WNBPA and WNBA player Layshia Clarendon, Olympic swimming gold medalist Crissy Perham and water polo Olympian Ashleigh Johnson.

The brief indicates that these signatories believe that women’s sports would not be what it is today if it had not been for the constitutional protections of Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. The latter, decided in 1992, specifically ensured that states could not ban abortions before the fetal viability point, usually at around 24 weeks. However, at the beginning of the month, a ban in texas decided that doctors cannot perform abortions once a heartbeat is detected, usually occurring around six weeks, and he relies on citizens, not state officials, to enforce the law. Other states have bans that could be triggered if Roe v. Wade.

“All athletes – men and women – have a narrow window of time to realize their greatest athletic potential. This reality is magnified for female athletes for whom the reproductive age coincides with their peak of competition in athletics,” the memory, which you can read in full here. “If the state forced female athletes to carry their pregnancies to term and give birth, it could derail women’s athletic careers, their academic futures and their large-scale economic livelihoods. The brief also argues that if their abortion rights were taken away, women and girls would be less likely to reap the benefits that athletics brings: improved self-esteem, higher education, career opportunities and a better life. better health.

In a personal anecdote, Perham spoke about abortion in college: “I was able to take control of my future and refocus my priorities. I got better in school, I started training really hard, and that summer I won my first national championship. My life would have been drastically different if I had been pregnant and forced out of this race because this race changed the course of my life. It opened up so many opportunities to me, and a year later I was part of the Olympic team. ”Other signatories wrote about their experiences of having access to abortions and, more broadly, d ‘have control over their own body.

“Reproductive rights should not be the subject of debate: being able to make very personal choices about our bodies and our future is essential to the freedom of every person. “

In addition, the brief argues that women should not have to choose between pregnancy and exercise, which is often the case. It also highlights the fact that participation in women’s sports has increased dramatically over the past five decades, and the success of these athletes is striking. For example, since the 2012 London Games, the female athletes of the American team have won more medals than the men of the American team (2021 was the third time in a row that women have achieved this feat at the Olympics). “Simply put, American women excel at the highest levels of athletic competition because of constitutional and legislative protections guaranteeing women’s rights to equal opportunity and access to organized sports,” it read.

Reproductive rights should not be the subject of debate: Being able to make very personal choices about our body and our future is essential to the freedom of every person “, Johnson, first black woman in the US Olympic water polo team, wrote on Twitter once the file was filed. “That’s why I’m proud to join my fellow athletes and say #AbortionIsEssential. #BansOffOurBodies.”

To find out the status of abortions in your place of residence, visit Planned Parenthood state-by-state monitoring.


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