Over 500 female athletes called on the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) to strike down an abortion law in Mississippi that would prohibit abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The SCOTUS case pertaining to the law, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, is scheduled to be heard Dec. 1.
In an amicus brief filed Monday, the Amici – ranging from olympians, professional athletes, and college athletes – demanded the Court uphold the precedents set by two previous cases, Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, citing age-old talking points surrounding bodily autonomy and how having a baby interferes with career endeavors.
“Denying an athlete control over her body could jeopardize her competitive career and violates Roe and Casey’s basic guarantee that the 'destiny of the woman must be shaped to a large extent on her own conception of her spiritual imperatives and her place in society,’” the brief states. Additionally, the brief argues that these particular cases played an important role in increasing women’s success and participation in athletics. “Absent women’s ability to control their bodies and reproductive decisions, the remarkable increase in women’s participation and success in athletics — and the concomitant increase in women’s ability to enjoy the physical, financial, social, and emotional benefits of sports — would not have occurred.”
Several unnamed individual Amici shared personal experiences, either of getting pregnant or the “what ifs” – reflecting on what they would do if they became pregnant. Unsurprisingly, they’d opt for an abortion, stating things such as “Had I become pregnant as a young athlete, I am confident I would have had an abortion” and “Should I have become pregnant throughout my collegiate athletics experience and not had the option of an abortion, what would have been my choices? Leave school and move home with no degree to raise a baby I was not ready for? Leave my team and only friend group where I was on track to become a captain by senior year?”
Among the Amici were Olympic gold-medalist and World Cup Champion Megan Rapinoe, Olympic gold-medal water polo team member Ashleigh Johnson, Olympic gold medalist and WNBA All-Star Diana Taurasi, and Seattle Storm WNBA player Sue Bird.
“Amici believe that, like themselves, the next generation of women athletes must be guaranteed bodily integrity and decisional autonomy in order to fully and equally participate in sports,” the brief reads. “Were these rights to be abrogated, Amici understand firsthand that women’s participation in athletics would suffer, including because some women athletes would not be able to compete at the same level — or at all — without access to abortion care and without the knowledge that the decision whether to continue or end a pregnancy remains theirs.”