US soccer star Megan Rapinoe has called on men to “stand up” in the battle to restore abortion rights and achieve gender parity in the aftermath of the US Supreme Court’s decision reversing Roe v Wade.
The influential athlete spoke uninterrupted for nine minutes to members of the media on Friday in the wake of the high court’s decision, saying “I should not be the loudest voice in the room.”
She added: “No woman should be the loudest voice in the room. This is what allyship looks like. This is what, frankly, doing the right thing looks like. If not for men, we would have none of these laws, we would have none of the inequality in terms of gender rights, and this onslaught on abortion rights, none of this would be happening. We did not do this to ourselves.”
Ms Rapinoe has for years been one of the most outspoken athletes in the country. The 36-year-old, whose virtuoso performances helped lead the US to victory at the last Women’s World Cup in France, also demonstrated for racial justice by taking a knee in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick in 2016 and spoke at the White House about pay equity last year. In recent weeks, Ms Rapinoe has also spoken out in defense of transgender athletes competing in sports.
“It’s hard to put into words how sad a day this is for me personally and my teammates,” Ms Rapinoe said.
Ms Rapinoe was born in California, attended college at the University of Portland in Oregon’s largest city, and currently competes for the Seattle-based OL Reign in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL).
Abortion is still legal in all three of those states and will be for the foreseeable future, though many Republicans favor passing a federal law banning abortion across the country.
In her comments to the press, Ms Rapinoe — who was not scheduled to speak, but asked to after the Court’s decision was released — placed her blame for the current situation at the feet of men who are “allowing a violent and consistent onslaught on the autonomy of women’s bodies, on women’s rights, on women’s minds, on our hearts, on our souls.”
“You have the opportunity to show up [and] make your voices heard, whether that’s in the workplace, on a media Zoom, in stadiums, in your family, the way that you vote,” Ms Rapinoe said. “It is not a women’s issue. It is everyone’s issue.”
The NWSL Players Association also released a statement on Friday condemning the Court’s decision.
“This ‘pro-life’ decision will result in the deaths of an untold number of women particularly in marginalized communities,” the organisation wrote in its statement. “The NWSLPA will support the work that is again necessary to liberate all of us from today’s devastating ruling.”