Megan Rapinoe, the outspoken star of the U.S. women’s soccer team, was among several professional athletes on Friday to criticize the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. She had not originally been scheduled to appear at a news conference ahead of the team’s friendly against Colombia but spent nearly 30 minutes addressing the ruling, which ends the constitutional right to an abortion.
“Frankly, the majority male court making decisions about my body or any other woman’s body is completely misguided and wildly out of touch with the desires of the country,” Rapinoe said, adding that it was “oddly cruel” timing for the announcement to arrive as women celebrate the 50th anniversary of the passage of Title IX legislation, which guaranteed access for women and girls to resources in education, including sports.
Rapinoe was among 500 current and former athletes who last year signed an amicus brief supporting abortion rights for the Supreme Court case, including Layshia Clarendon, the former W.N.B.A. All-Star. The brief argued in part that a woman’s ability to make decisions about her own body supported the success of the United States women at the Olympics.
The W.N.B.A. players’ union said in a statement on Friday that the ruling could “reinforce economic, social and political inequalities and could lead to higher rates of maternal mortality while eviscerating rights to reproductive freedom for everyone.” An N.W.S.L. statement called it a denial of “full liberty and equality.”
A number of athletes posted their opposition to the ruling on their social media accounts, with the N.B.A. star LeBron James writing, “It’s absolutely about power & control” in an all-caps post to Twitter, and Coco Gauff, the world No. 12-ranked women’s tennis player, posting that she was “incredibly disappointed by the decision made today.”
Two league commissioners, Adam Silver of the N.B.A. and Cathy Engelbert of the W.N.B.A., said in a joint statement that the leagues “believe that women should be able to make their own decisions concerning their health and future.” They added that they would work among other things to ensure that employees “have access to reproductive health care, regardless of their location.”