More than 500 women in various professional sport organizations across the US including the US women’s national soccer team captain, Megan Rapinoe, have signed an amicus brief to the Supreme Court urging it to reject a Mississippi law banning abortions after 15 weeks into the pregnancy.
The law, which comes as part of a wave of anti-abortion legislation across conservative states in the US, is being defended in front of the Supreme Court at oral arguments set to begin in December.
Attorneys for the state are seeking to directly challenge the 1973 Roe V Wade decision establishing abortion as a protected right for women across the country, a prospect now seen as within reach for foes of abortion rights following three conservative additions to the Court under former President Donald Trump.
In their brief, the women argue that laws limiting abortion services would unduly harm female athletes in professional leagues by forcing them to carry pregnancies to full term if they do not detect the pregnancy and take action before restrictions on the procedures come into effect.
“If the State compelled women athletes to carry pregnancies to term and give birth, it could derail women’s athletic careers, academic futures, and economic livelihoods at a large scale,” reads the amicus brief.
“The demands of athletics and pregnancy are physically and emotionally intense. If women were to lose the agency to make individual, personal choices as to if, when, and how to balance these competing demands, many will be forced to sacrifice their athletic aspirations and pursuits,” it continues.
Defenders of abortion rights are nervously preparing for the Court to rule on the Mississippi case, an event that will likely occur early next year, after it declined to act and prevent a restrictive law in Texas banning abortions after six weeks into the pregnancy from taking effect. The Court has yet to make a final ruling on that case, but for now has let the state of Texas virtually shut down the majority of abortions across the state as few women detect the pregnancy and are able to make it to a clinic before six weeks have passed.
This week a Texas gynaecologist based in San Antonio became the first person to be sued under the state’s law, which deputises citizens to enforce it through the court system and bars state officials from taking action, after he wrote in a Washington Post op-ed that he had performed an abortion for a woman further than six weeks into her pregnancy after the ban took effect on 1 September.