CultureMonday 05.16.22

After Leaked Roe v. Wade Draft, the WNBA Speaks Out

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The sports world has been relatively quiet after a leaked draft opinion showed the Supreme Court could very well overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that expanded access to abortion. Leagues and athletes that took center stage in the activism sparked by George Floyd’s murder in 2020, voter suppression, or bills targeting trans minorities have not taken a similar stand after this massive threat to reproductive rights.

But the WNBA is among the few to have done so, with a statement citing the league’s belief that “all women have the right to autonomy over their bodies and fair and equal access to health care. That is why civic engagement and voting rights will remain a focus as we tip off the WNBA season.” The league’s Atlanta Dream also came out in support of Roe, as did a number of players and coaches, including Tianna Hawkins (Washington Mystics), Natasha Cloud (Washington Mystics), Napheesa Collier (Minnesota Lynx), and Brianna Turner (Phoenix Mercury).

Athletes in other games have also voiced their opposition to the decision, from American bobsledder Elana Meyers Taylor, Olympic swimmer Erica Sullivan, and U.S. Women’s soccer captain Becky Sauerbrunn, to tennis greats Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova.

As far as statements from male athletes go, Washington Nationals pitcher Sean Doolittle joined a pro-choice demonstration outside the Supreme Court; New England Patriots running back Damien Harris tweeted “This. Is. Wrong.”; and Tampa Bay minor league pitcher Simon Rosenblum-Larson tweeted “It’s impossible to stand by and watch as a woman’s right to choose gets ripped away.”

But mostly, there’s been a conspicuous silence. LZ and Will discuss what it is about this issue — or perhaps this moment in time, after the public battle between another big business, Disney, and Florida governor Ron DeSantis — that makes it attractive to stay out of the fray.

The Long Game