Megan Rapinoe, Sue Bird: Stars urge US Supreme Court to protect abortion rights

More than 500 female athletes, including footballer Megan Rapinoe and basketball player Sue Bird, have urged the US Supreme Court to reject a Mississippi law banning abortions after 15 weeks

More than 500 female athletes, including footballer Megan Rapinoe and basketball player Sue Bird, have urged the US Supreme Court to reject a Mississippi law banning abortions after 15 weeks.

The Republican-backed bid to ban abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy in Mississippi is a direct challenge to the landmark Roe vs Wade ruling.

Roe vs Wade, passed in 1973, recognised a woman’s right to end a pregnancy. It made abortion legal nationwide after it was outlawed in a number of states.

The Mississippi law, known as the Gestational Age Act, was first passed in 2018 but was struck down by lower courts. It only allows abortion after 15 weeks in cases involving "medical emergencies or for severe fetal abnormality".

Like a law recently upheld in Texas, it contains no exception for rape or incest.

Olympians, professional sportswomen and athlete associations have teamed up to file an amicus brief as part of the Dobbs vs Jackson’s Women’s Health case.

They argued a ban on abortions would stunt the growth of women’s sport. "The physical tolls of forced pregnancy and childbirth would undermine athletes’ ability to actualise their full human potential," the brief read.

The law in Mississippi could see abortion after 15 weeks banned

In the brief, Olympic swimming gold medallist Crissy Perham described how she accidentally became pregnant in college and decided to have an abortion to "take control of her future". She then qualified for the Olympics the following year.

Perham said deciding to have an abortion "led me to being an Olympian, a college graduate, and a proud mother today."

Rapinoe reiterated the message in the brief in a follow-up statement: "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."

"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."

Megan Rapinoe has been a vocal proponent against racism, and for women's and LGBTQ+ rights

The 36-year-old Rapinoe, a two-time World Cup winner, often uses her platform to speak out in support of women’s and LGBTQ+ rights, and against racism. Bird, Rapinoe’s partner and a four-time WNBA champion, also signed the brief.

Other signatories include Diana Taurasi, the WNBA’s all-time leading scorer, and Ashleigh Johnson, the Olympic water polo gold medallist.

Oral arguments in Dobbs vs Jackson Women’s Health will be heard by the US Supreme Court on December 1st. A ruling is due by the end of June next year.

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