Women’s sports world reacts after Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade

Police barricades stand in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. (Stefani Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images)

Voices from around the women’s sports world are reacting to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision Friday to overturn Roe v. Wade, which for nearly 50 years had established access to abortion as a constitutional right.

The reversal of Roe v. Wade leaves the right up to individual states, with more than 20 states set to reduce or ban access to abortions.

The Supreme Court voted 6-3 to uphold a Mississippi law to ban almost all abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy in the case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. Five justices signed the majority opinion that overturned Roe v. Wade; Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. did not, writing that he would have upheld the Mississippi law but would not have overturned the 1972 precedent.

Following the ruling, athletes, teams and others connected to women’s sports took to social media to share their responses to the news, among them tennis legend Billie Jean King, U.S. women’s national team star Megan Rapinoe and more.

“This decision will not end abortion,” King wrote on Twitter. “What it will end is safe and legal access to this vital medical procedure. It is a sad day in the United States.”

U.S. women’s national team star Megan Rapinoe spoke for 10 minutes before taking questions at the team’s press conference Friday. She said of the Supreme Court’s decision, “I think the cruelty is the point.”

Rapinoe’s USWNT teammate Lindsey Horan also spoke about the decision at the press conference. “I’m still a little bit shocked and trying to take it all in, but I do feel like this is just a step backwards for our country,” Horan said.

Several NWSL teams released statements after the decision, including NJ/NY Gotham FC. The club wrote in a statement it “vehemently objects” to the rollback and that “reproductive rights are human rights.”

“Abortion must not only remain legal, it must be made affordable and accessible nationwide,” the club wrote. “Restricting individuals’ bodily autonomy by requiring patients to travel hundreds of miles to overcome inequitable barriers will have a disproportionately harmful impact on communities of color and other marginalized groups already facing obstacles to healthcare.”

The Kansas City Current wrote on social media that the team is “heartbroken” at the decision.

“Any act against women is an act against our values, our pride and our mission as a club,” the statement reads. “We stand in solidarity with women everywhere and will work to protect the rights of not only our players but women globally.”

The club later amended its initial statement to “acknowledge that this affects all who can reproduce, not just women. Reproductive rights are human rights.”

USWNT and Kansas City Current midfielder Sam Mewis re-posted to her Instagram stories a message from Barack Obama that calls for action to help protect abortion.

More NWSL teams, including OL Reign, Orlando Pride, Angel City FC and Racing Louisville, all came out against the Supreme Court ruling as well, underscoring the importance of access to reproductive health care.

“Kentuckians requiring an abortion will be forced to drive an average of 245 miles for proper healthcare in the wake of today’s Supreme Court decision,” Racing Louisville said in a statement. “This development leaves us especially concerned about marginalized members of our community and future Supreme Court decisions that could impact them.”

The NWSL itself later issued a statement on behalf of the league and Commissioner Jessica Berman.

“The Supreme Court’s ruling today denies individuals in this country the full liberty and equality that is the cornerstone of a just society,” the statement said. “Reproductive rights are human rights.

“The NWSL is more than just a soccer league; we are a collective who will stand up every day for what is right.”

Athletes Unlimited, which hosts softball, lacrosse, basketball and volleyball leagues, also issued a statement.

“At the core of Athletes Unlimited is the belief that athletes should have control of their careers on and off the field, and a voice in decisions — large and small — that affect them,” the statement said. “All women should have the same rights to be decision-makers on issues that affect them, especially in matters that have as profound an impact on their lives as pregnancy.”

Oklahoma softball star Jocelyn Alo, who recently signed with the new Women’s Professional Fastpitch league, also commented. “What a sad day to be a woman,” she wrote on Twitter.

The WNBPA issued a statement decrying the Supreme Court’s decision, saying it “provides a treacherous pathway to abortion bans that reinforce economic, social and political inequalities.”

The statement also included this pointed question: “Are we in a democracy where guns have more rights than women?”

Phoenix Mercury forward Brianna Turner questioned whether the Supreme Court should hold so much power, writing on Twitter, “There’s gotta be a better way.”

Seattle Storm star Sue Bird retweeted several posts urging people to fight for abortion rights, but she kept her own initial reaction to just one word: “Gutted.”

The Washington Mystics and Seattle Storm added their voices to the chorus of WNBA teams and players speaking out on the decision, with both teams emphasizing their commitment to fight for human rights.

“Now we have come to this: people have won the freedom to buy guns with impunity while women have lost the freedom to decide their own future,” Seattle Storm tweeted. “Furious and ready to fight.”

Echoing the Seattle Storm’s statement, Nikki Stanton of OL Reign questioned the Supreme Court’s decisions on gun laws and Roe v. Wade.

“How can we possibly live in a world where one day we overturn a law to make it EASIER to carry guns in public, and the next day BAN abortions? The world can be so cruel,” Stanton wrote. “Hoping for change, and sending extra love to those who need it.”

Metropolitan Riveters captain Madison Packer called out elected officials for protecting gun rights but not abortion rights.

“We have elected officials who feel women can’t make decisions for their own bodies so we overturned Roe v. Wade,” she wrote. “Officials who are so afraid of the LGBTQ+ community that they are banning and threatening its existence. But you can still carry a gun. Who you vote for matters.”

Glennon Doyle, author and investor in Angel City FC, offered words of encouragement to her Twitter followers.

“Comfort to every human being who feels afraid right now. I feel afraid too. it is okay to feel afraid and tender now,” Doyle wrote. “Soon, the anger returns and we fight like bloody hell.”

A draft opinion from the Supreme Court leaked in early May had telegraphed the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, and many from the women’s sports world shared their anger and dismay at that time.