Anger, frustration and broken heart emojis began filling the Twitter and Instagram feeds of athletes on Friday morning.
The WNBA, long known for quickly speaking out on social justice issues, led a wave of athletes denouncing the Supreme Court for overturning the landmark 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision and ruling states may again outlaw abortion. Opinion polls show most Americans support access to abortion, at least in the early months of a pregnancy, but half of the states are expected to pass or enforce laws that make most abortions illegal.
Some expressed frustration that the ruling came on the day after the 50th anniversary of Title IX was celebrated and on the heels of the Supreme Court relaxing some gun laws.
The Women’s National Basketball Players Association released a statement Friday condemning the ruling, with many players and teams quickly following its lead.
“Are we in a democracy where guns have more rights than women?” the association wrote in the statement, which called out the high court for being “out of touch with the country and any sense of human decency.”
The Sparks were among a handful of teams using team social media accounts to state they were “outraged by today’s Supreme Court decision.”
“This ruling strips women of their fundamental right to have autonomy over their own bodies. As we have for over 25 years, the Los Angeles Sparks organization will continue to fight and advocate for women’s freedoms, health equity, and social justice,” a team statement read.
Sparks guard Lexie Brown tweeted, “Like how did we get here? So much happening in this country and this is what they want to focus on. It’s really terrifying actually.”
And Sparks teammate Katie Lou Samuelson posted, “Wow…this is an absolute travesty.”
Sue Bird, the Seattle Storm star, expressed her disappointment on Twitter shortly after the news broke. She has since shared voter advocacy information and tweets about reproductive rights by state.
The Storm tweeted in a statement that they are “furious and ready to fight.”
Billie Jean King, the tennis legend and Long Beach native, tweeted Friday that “it is a sad day in the United States.” King spoke out about her journey getting an abortion in her memoir “All In” and continued her rallying cry for abortion rights after a draft of the Supreme Court decision leaked in May.
Fellow tennis great Martina Navratilova expressed her frustration over the ruling and tweeted, “Welcome to Gilead,” alluding to the fictional location of the popular book and television series “The Handmaid’s Tale,” where women are stripped of all individual rights.
Male athletes and coaches have begun chiming in as well.
Lakers star LeBron James retweeted former President Obama’s statements about the ruling, while Austin Rivers asked on Twitter, “Is America going backwards?”
Former New Orleans Pelicans coach Stan Van Gundy tweeted, “A dark day for women and those who love women.” Van Gundy expressed anger at the Republican Party in a different tweet for not giving women “full rights over their own bodies.”
The fight for abortion rights by athletes, coaches and other sports figures began long before the decision Friday. The Sparks’ Nneka Ogwumike and USC swimmer Lauren Blair joined Megan Rapinoe, Bird and more than 500 other current and former high school, college and pro athletes who signed an amicus brief in support of Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the losing side in the case the Supreme Court ruled on Friday in striking down the Roe vs. Wade precedent.
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