A group of prominent athletes, including soccer captain Megan Rapinoe, have urged the U.S supreme court to protect abortion rights ahead of an upcoming Mississippi case that threatens to overturn Roe v Wade.
More than 500 athletes from across different sporting codes and various athlete associations have signed a friend-of-the-court brief, directed to the court justices, arguing that abortion rights are critical for the continued development of women’s sport in the U.S.
“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 to BuzzFeed News.
“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.”
The brief includes Megan Rapinoe and teammate Becky Sauerbrunn, the WNBA’s all time leading scorer and five-time gold medallist Diana Taurasi, and captain of the 1992 US Olympic swim team, Crissy Peham, among many others.
The case to appear before the supreme court later this year is called Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organisation, and concerns a 2018 Mississippi law that bans abortion after 15 weeks.
The athletes’ brief argues that female athletes need autonomy over their bodies and reproductive rights to participate in high school, college and professional sport. It says that more restrictions on abortion will harm women’s ability to participate and excel in sport, and undermine their rights.
“Simply put, American women excel at the highest levels of athletic competition because of constitutional and legislative protections ensuring women’s rights to equal opportunity and access to organized sports,” the brief says.
In the brief, Crissy Perham, an Olympic gold medallist, shared the story of an abortion she had during college, and that she decided to have the procedure “to take control of her future”.
“That choice ultimately led me to being an Olympian, a college graduate, and a proud mother today,” she said.
On Monday, the Biden administration urged the supreme court not to overturn Roe v Wade in the upcoming Mississippi case.
The fight over abortion in Mississippi comes as a doctor in Texas has been sued under the new abortion laws in the state.
The doctor shared in a Washington Post article that he had carried out the procedure on a woman who was in the early stages of pregnancy, but “beyond the state’s new limit”.
“I acted because I had a duty of care to this patient, as I do for all patients, and because she has a fundamental right to receive this care,” the doctor, who has been practicing medicine for nearly 50 years, wrote. “I fully understood that there could be legal consequences – but I wanted to make sure that Texas didn’t get away with its bid to prevent this blatantly unconstitutional law from being tested.”
The law in Texas came into effect in September, banning abortion after six weeks, and giving individuals an incentive to sue doctors who perform an abortion.