Megan Rapinoe of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team and Sue Bird of the WNBA were among the more than 500 athletes who implored the U.S. Supreme Court to protect abortion rights via a friend-of-the-court (amicus) brief, which explains that “women, trans, and non-binary athletes could not have reached their current level of participation and success without the constitutional right to access abortion,” according to a press release shared Monday.
A written legal brief is typically “submitted to lay out the argument for various petitions and motions” before the court, according to Law.com. This specific brief, for instance, was signed by Rapinoe, Bird, as well as 26 other Olympians, 73 professional athletes, and 276 intercollegiate athletes who are “united in their deeply-held belief that women’s athletics could not have reached its current level of participation and success without the constitutional rights recognized in Roe v. Wade,” states the document.
“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,” said Rapinoe in a press release, according to Reuters. “I am honored to stand with the hundreds of athletes who have signed onto this Supreme Court brief to help champion not only our constitutional rights but also those of future generations of athletes.” (Read more: Why This Senator’s Abortion Story Is So Important In the Fight for Reproductive Healthcare)
The brief also notes that those who signed it believe “the next generation of women athletes must be guaranteed bodily integrity and decisional autonomy in order to fully and equally participate in sports.” Further, the brief states that they are “united in their belief that the physical tolls of forced pregnancy and childbirth would undermine athletes’ ability to actualize their full human potential.”
The brief was filed in response to the case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which will be heard by the Supreme Court in December. For context, in 2018, the Mississippi House passed a bill that banned abortions after 15 weeks, except in special circumstances, such as a medical emergency or severe fetal abnormality. However, an appeals court then blocked the state from enforcing that law.
The case is now headed to the Supreme Court because Mississippi is asking the court to overturn the appellate court ruling as well as Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the latter of which prohibits states from banning early abortions. Specifically, it prevents states from banning abortions before the viability point (the point at which the baby could be born and have a reasonable chance of survival). This is usually around 24 weeks gestation.
In December, the Supreme Court will be tasked with considering whether or not it’s constitutional to place a ban on abortion before a fetus can survive outside the womb. Earlier this summer, Lynn Fitch, Mississippi’s attorney general, told the U.S. Supreme Court that Roe v. Wade was “egregiously wrong” and should be overturned, as CNN reported in July. (Related: How Late In a Pregnancy Can You Actually Have an Abortion?)
This news comes on the heels of Texas’ extreme new abortion law, which went into effect last month. The law, called Senate Bill 8, prohibits abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. What’s arguably even more shocking is the act also enables private citizens to sue anyone aiding the procedure, such as health care workers, anyone funding the abortion, or even rideshare drivers. (Related: TikTok Activists Are Fighting Back Against the Extreme Texas Abortion Law)
In the wake of the controversy, several prominent figures and celebrities have spoken out, including model Iskra Lawrence, who recently revealed that she didn’t know she was pregnant until about the nine-week mark, to make a critical point about the extreme nature of the six-week specification in Texas’ new law. “There are so many reasons [folks] may need or want an abortion from maternal death to abusive relationships or simply not having the financial means to feed and raise a child,” she posted on Instagram earlier this month. “Women need access to abortions and that is their decision to make.”