Boies Schiller Flexner LLP filed an amicus brief on behalf of more than 500 athletes—including U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team forward Megan Rapinoe, WNBA All-Star Layshia Clarendon, and more than two dozen Olympians—urging the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold the constitutional right to abortion. This marks the first time in history that athletes have weighed in on an abortion case before the Supreme Court. Other notable signers include: the captain of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team Becky Sauerbrunn; WNBA first-round draft picks Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi; double Olympic gold medalist swimmer Crissy Perham; two-time Olympic gold medalist Ashleigh Johnson; the Women’s National Basketball Players Association; National Women’s Soccer League Players Association; and Athletes for Impact.
The 26 Olympians, 73 professional athletes, and 276 intercollegiate athletes who signed the brief have, among other accomplishments, set world records and earned All-American titles, won multiple gold medals in the Olympics, served as captains of U.S. women’s national teams, and ranked first in the nation in their sport. In the brief, they explain 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.
The brief was filed in support of the last abortion clinic in Mississippi in the case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which will be heard by the Supreme Court later this year. The case challenges the state’s ban on abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy—a direct violation of Roe v. Wade. This case is being litigated by the Center for Reproductive Rights, the law firms Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP and O’Melveny and Myers LLP, and the Mississippi Center for Justice on behalf of Jackson Women’s Health Organization.
Megan Rapinoe, Olympic gold-medalist and two-time soccer World Cup Champion: “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. 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. Physically, we push ourselves to the absolute limit, so to have forces within this country trying to deny us control over our own bodies is infuriating and un-American and will be met with fierce resistance.”
Layshia Clarendon, a WNBA All-Star, and the first openly non-binary WNBA Player: “It is my absolute honor to stand with this group of amateur and professional athletes in support of access to vital health services. This ban is a targeted attack on our most basic right to have agency over our bodies. I’ve seen firsthand how high-quality, compassionate medical care can play a critical role in the life of an athlete, and that is something I am prepared to defend with everything I have.”
Ashleigh Johnson, the first Black woman on the U.S. Olympic water polo team, winning gold in 2021 and 2016: “The time is now to stand up for reproductive rights. I am proud to make my voice heard on this issue, not just as a competitive athlete, but as a Black woman. It is well-established that women of color experience real disparities in accessing health care services, including contraceptive, abortion and other reproductive care. I hope we can have a real conversation as a country about valuing Black women’s autonomy.”
Crissy Perham, Olympic gold medalist and captain of the 1992 U.S. Olympic swim team: “This brief marks the first time I have publicly shared my abortion story. When I was in college on a swimming scholarship, and on birth control, I became pregnant. I made the very personal decision to have an abortion, which empowered me to take control of my future. Others may have made a different decision in that situation, but my decision ultimately allowed me to become an Olympian, a college graduate, and a proud mother today. That is what I’m fighting for—for everyone to be afforded the freedom to make their own decisions about their bodies.”
Joanna Wright, a partner at Boies Schiller Flexner and the lead attorney on the brief: We are proud to support the more than 500 women athletes, coaches and associations in filing this historic brief demanding that the Court recognize and uphold their constitutional right to access safe and legal abortion care. Women’s bodily integrity and decisional autonomy is crucial to the current and future success of women’s athletics. The brave women who have joined this brief are stepping forward to ensure that all women athletes can exercise their constitutionally protected right to reproductive freedom and realize their full athletic potential.