WNBA, NWSL, athletes react after United States Supreme Court overthrows Roe v Wade

The Women’s National Basketball Association, the National Women’s Soccer League and sports icons such as Megan Rapinoe, LeBron James and Billie Jean King have spoken out against the US Supreme Court’s decision to overturn federal abortion rights.

In a 5-3-1 decision on Friday, local time, the court ruled that the 1972 Roe v Wade decision — which guaranteed women the right to autonomy over their own bodies for 50 years — was unconstitutional and that individual states would now decide whether to criminalize access to abortion.

As the news trickled across America and the world, several sports leagues and athletes released statements condemning the decision.

The WNBA — the American women’s professional basketball league and a league at the forefront of social issues like the Black Lives Matter movement — was one of the first to speak out.

“This decision shows a branch of government that is so out of touch with the country and any sense of human dignity,” the statement said. It went on to encourage Americans to vote.

“We must recognize that when we cast a vote, it is to elect officials and connect the dots with policies and legislation that align with our values.”

Loading

Response condemning the court’s decision was swift, with both female and male athletes take to social media to express their views.

The ruling comes just two days after the 50th anniversary of Title IX, a federal court ruling that outlawed gender discrimination in state-funded education programs.

It is widely recognized as advancing gender equality within American college sports and advancing opportunity for millions of American women.

Tennis great Billie Jean King – who recently delivered a speech honoring the legacy of Title IX along with the First Lady, Dr. Jill Biden – also criticized Saturday’s abortion ruling.

“The Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade, which has protected the right to abortion for nearly 50 years.” King tweeted.

“This decision will not end abortion. What it will be is safe and legal access to this vital medical procedure. It’s a sad day in the United States.”

Loading

About half of the country’s states — most of which have conservative governments — are about to enact laws banning abortion.

The National Women’s Soccer League, as well as its 12 clubs — many of which include players who are mothers — have each released statements condemning the decision.

“The Supreme Court ruling today denies individuals in this country the complete freedom and equality that are the cornerstone of a just society,” said NWSL Commissioner Jessica Berman.

“The NWSL is more than just a football league. We are a collective that will stand up for what is right every day.”

In an impassioned 10-minute speech, Megan Rapinoe, US women’s team striker and former Ballon D’Or winner, spoke about the “heartbreak” of the moment and called on men in the United States to consider their own passive role in creating an environment for such a statement to take place.

“You kept quiet to us,” Rapinoe said. “Get up. Say something. This is your wife, this is your sister, this is your boyfriend, this is your girlfriend, this is the mother of your children. This is all of us.

Loading

“And you are allowing a violent and consistent attack on the autonomy of the women’s body, on women’s rights, on women’s minds, on our hearts, on our souls. We live in a country that tries forever to break down what you may have made, by what you have been so privileged to feel all your life.

“No woman should be the loudest voice in the room. This is what alliance looks like. This is honestly what doing the right thing looks like.

“We didn’t do this to ourselves. And I would take it personally, what I’m saying, as an accusation; as a come-to-Jesus moment.

‘Look in the mirror. You are complicit in all this.’

Posted updated