Female athletes warn against Mississippi law


More than 500 current and former female athletes urged the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday to dismiss a Mississippi law bans abortions after 15 weeks pregnant.

In an amicus brief filed on Monday, the athletes cite the importance of “bodily integrity and decision-making autonomy” to their individual careers and women’s sport as a whole. The list of signatories includes 26 Olympians, 73 professional athletes, 276 varsity athletes and some of the biggest names in women’s sport – from American football star Megan Rapinoe to WNBA veterans Sue Bird, Breanna Stewart and Diana Taurasi.

The WNBA and NWSL player unions also signed the dossier.

“I am honored to stand alongside the hundreds of athletes who have signed this Supreme Court dossier to help defend not only our constitutional rights, but those of future generations of athletes as well,” Rapinoe said in a statement. .

“Physically we are pushing ourselves to the absolute limit, so having forces in this country trying to deny us control of our own bodies is infuriating and anti-American and will meet fierce resistance.”

The athletes filed their amicus brief in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, in which the Supreme Court must examine the constitutionality of a Mississippi law banning abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Pleadings are scheduled for December 1.

The case will serve as Roe v’s first direct test. Wade under the new Conservative majority in the Supreme Court. The landmark 1973 case legalized abortion nationwide, while a separate decision in 1992 (Planned Parenthood v. Casey) guaranteed women’s right to have an abortion before a fetus could survive outside of it. uterus, which is often set at around 24 weeks.

In their amicus brief, the athletes argue that further abortion restrictions – such as those outlined in Mississippi law – would have far-reaching consequences for women’s sport and “undermine the fundamental rights of athletes.”

In one of the brief’s many first-person statements, former U.S. team swimmer and Olympic gold medalist Crissy Perham reveals she had an abortion after accidentally getting pregnant in college, despite the fact that she is under birth control. She went on to win a national title that summer, qualified for the 1992 Summer Games in Barcelona and won three Olympic medals, including two gold.

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“My life would have been drastically different if I had been pregnant and forced out of this (national championship) race because this race changed the course of my life,” Perham 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 be an Olympian, a college graduate and a proud mother today.”

Athletes also argue that abortion care violations have broader Title IX implications, citing a direct link between reproductive rights and gender equality.

“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,” they write in the brief.

“Such a fundamental restriction on bodily integrity and human autonomy would never be imposed on a male athlete, although he is also responsible for a pregnancy.”

Joanna Wright, the senior women’s lawyer, told USA TODAY Sports that the stakes in the Mississippi case “could not be higher.”

If the Supreme Court ruling weakens or overturns the Roe v. Wade, she said, could allow more than a dozen other states to pursue similar restrictions. She described this possibility as “a dire situation for all women”, including athletes.

“For many women, the sport and their athletic prowess are the ticket to a college education – and, for elite athletes, access to a livelihood, whether through athletic sponsorship or training. advertising opportunities, ”Wright said.

“I think the athletes in particular, and the 500+ friends who have signed up, understand the enormous importance of having decision-making autonomy over their own bodies. They use it as a tool of their own craft.”

Contribution: Nancy Armor

Contact Tom Schad at [email protected] or on Twitter @Tom_Schad.


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