Megan Rapinoe Speaks on the Supreme Court Overturning Roe v. Wade
ON THE DAY BEFORE the USWNT meets Colombia in a friendly in the Denver area, star winger Megan Rapinoe gave her reaction to the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade in a press conference. Here’s what she said:
Hi everybody. I mean, first of all, obviously it's good to be back in the crest and seeing all of you. I wish that we could just talk about soccer today. But obviously with the ruling on Roe v Wade, that takes precedence over everything. It's hard to put into words how sad a day this is for me personally, for my teammates, for just all of the people out there who this is going to affect. I say this all the time, but pro-choice means that you get to choose. Pro-choice allows other people to be pro-life if that is what works for them, or that is what their beliefs are, or if that is where they're at in their life.
Pro-life doesn't allow anybody to make a choice. Obviously you can understand from an individual perspective how difficult it is to live in a country where you have a constant, unrelenting, violent tide against you, an onslaught as a woman. And it would be as a gay person and as a non-binary person, as a trans person, whoever this is going to affect, because it affects a lot more than just women, or cis women, it really does affect us all. If people are seeing this, beyond that I would just encourage people to try to understand the intersectionality of this.
“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 sort of onslaught on abortion rights. None of this would be happening. We did not do this ourselves. And I would take it personally, what I'm saying as an accusation, as a come to Jesus moment, as a look in the mirror. You are complicit in all of this, and you also have the opportunity to do better every single day. You have the opportunity to show up, make your voices heard, whether that's in the workplace, on a media Zoom, in stadiums, in your family, the way that you vote. It is not a women's issue. It is everyone's issue.” — Megan Rapinoe
I am a cis-gendered rich white woman that lives in two of the most progressive cities in the world with protection of not only myself and my resources, but this resource and this protection, as are all of my teammates, not everyone is afforded that. We know that this will disproportionately affect poor women, Black women, brown women, immigrants, women in abusive relationships, women who have been raped, and girls who have been raped by family members. Who, you know what, maybe just didn't make the best choice. And that's no reason to be forced to have a pregnancy. It will completely exacerbate so many of the existing inequalities that we have in our country.
It doesn't keep not one single person safer. It doesn't keep not one single child safer, certainly. And it does not keep one single inclusive term woman safer. We know that the lack of abortion does not stop people from having abortions. It stops people from having safe abortions. I would encourage people to understand all of the different aspects that overturning Roe v Wade will have on so many … actually on everyone in the entire country. I just can't understate how sad and how cruel this is. I think the cruelty is the point, because this is not pro-life by any means.
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This way of thinking or political belief is coupled with a complete lack of motivation around gun laws. It comes with pro death penalty. It comes with anti health care, anti prenatal care, anti child care, anti pre-K, anti food assistance, anti welfare anti-education, anti maternity leave, anti paternity leave.
This is not pro-life. And it's very frustrating and disheartening and frankly just infuriating. To hear that be the reason that people are wanting to end abortion rights and this vital aspect of a woman's not only healthcare and general basic safety in this country, but her bodily autonomy and the right to freedom and the pursuit of happiness and liberty is being assaulted.
And it's just incredibly disheartening. Um, there are an infinite amount of reasons why a woman chooses to do what she does with her body or what they do with their body, none of which are anybody else's business. And I just, again, like, it's just so disheartening and so sad because some people will be okay, but most people will not, most people are not in a position or have the resources or whatever the case may be to protect themselves. And so to have the entirety of the U.S. government say to people's faces, say to women's faces, we do not care. We are going to force our belief system, which is deeply rooted in a white supremacist patriarchal Christianity. We are going to force that upon you.
First of all, your religion is a choice and it is a belief that you have. It is not my belief and it is not many people's beliefs, and it certainly is not the law of the land. And it certainly in the context of Roe v Wade is not the will of the country, and that has been explicit for so long. The makeup of the court is ill-equipped to handle this kind of decision. Frankly, a majority male court making decisions about my body or any other woman's body is completely misguided and wildly out of touch with the desires of the country, the will of the country and the will of the people. And I think they acting incredibly irresponsibly and inappropriately.
Again, I think I'll just end with pro-choice means that we all get to decide what is best for us, because that is our right as a human being in this country. And frankly, I believe in the world and pro-life does not allow anything other than one very strict religious view, frankly, and belief system to be forced upon everyone else.
So this will obviously have very wide ranging effects when it comes to racism and transphobia and homophobia and inequality and will exacerbate so many of the existing issues that we have in our country. Particularly as we come out of COVID as the economic situation will likely continue to deteriorate for so many people.
It's a really sad day. It's a really hard thing to deal with for all of us. And again, I encourage people to take a step back and come from a place of compassion and humanity. And understand that just because I believe something doesn't mean everybody else has to, and we all get to make our own choices, but ultimately we need to come from a place of love, respect, and autonomy to do what we feel is best for us.
NANCY ARMOUR, USA Today:
Megan, thank you very much for taking the time to do this. You were one of the 500 female athletes who submitted an amicus brief to the court in this case, making the link between Title IX and Roe v Wade that without Roe, the gains of Title IX would not be possible. Obviously yesterday was the 50th anniversary of Title IX. Can you just talk about what, first of all, the fact that this decision came down a day after that, and also just from an an athlete's perspective, just put into perspective what Roe allowed you to do, how it allowed you to take advantage of everything that Title IX provided?
I think Title IX, first of all, it's just oddly cruel for this to happen during this time, obviously with Title IX, celebrating a piece of legislation that gave so many women the opportunity to make our own choices about what we wanted to do with our life. And obviously in the context of athletics gave us the opportunity to pursue a unicorn talent that all of us have to be professional athletes or to go to college, or honestly gives people so many opportunities to go to college and get an education and potentially change their situation or choose for themselves what they what they want their situation to be.
I mean, for me personally, I obviously have this once in a lifetime talent that I'm able to use to take me into the rest of my life. It's what brought me to college. And it's what obviously has brought me beyond, but it was very clear, very early on. My parents were not in position to financially support both my twin sister and I going to college where they had to pay for it. So I was able to use Title IX to get an education. And my sister was able to use Title IX to get an education.
God forbid soccer doesn't work out, which it does not work out for almost everybody who tries to play professional soccer. So I can't understate the importance and the impact of Title IX in the world, not just in our country, but in the world at large. And how this is yet again, another assault on women's autonomy to do what they want. Because it won't stop here. And this isn't the first place that it has started. Lack of healthcare, the disgusting and cruel attack on trans kids, the bathroom bills.
A lot of the decision I believe, from what I've read. Obergefell comes up a lot in this decision about Roe v Wade. I think gay marriage is under attack. I think that trans rights are under attack. I think that women's rights are under attack. We know voting rights are under attack. We know civil rights are under attack of all kinds.
So I don't think you can understate the importance of Title IX and also the dire situation which we are in, in which a very small number of people are dictating the lives of quite literally hundreds of millions of people.
STEPHANIE YANG, The Athletic:
Thanks Megan. That was a lot of emotional labor. So please feel free to skate right past this. You’ve got me crying in the club too. So, sorry about that. And my voice is like crazy right now. You did just mention Obergefell and gay rights and you know, I've got colleagues in this space who are talking about, let's go get married at the courthouse today, just in case, things like that. And I was just wondering if there was any discussion amongst you and other teammates about the impact of this on queer communities, not just in terms of gay marriage but for queer communities, bodily autonomy is also a really huge issue.
Listen, I hold space for that. And it's a very emotional day. Of course, of course. I see everything in intersectionality. As an intersection, I absolutely think gay rights are under attack. I absolutely think we will see legislation pop up state by state by state that will eventually come to this radical court. I have zero faith that my rights will be upheld by the court. I have faith in our country and I have faith in people and I have faith in the voters. And if you ever needed a fucking motivation to vote, to get involved. Quite literally people's lives depend on it. Like actual lives, we're talking life and death, and also, you know, your life in terms of what does it mean to even be alive if you can't be your full self, like what the fuck is the point? So yeah, I mean, we've absolutely had these conversations.
I think we'll continue to have these conversations. I think this is obviously very new and very raw, you know, a few of us. I mean, obviously we heard about the leak. I mean, to whoever leaked that, thank you for giving us a heads up, because this is a lot to take in, and to be surprised by this would've just been fucking out of control.
But yeah, people are scared, you know, and it's like, for me, I'm scared because this is just awful. And I know how important it is for me to express myself and to be who I am, but I'm going to be fine. I said that I'm rich and white and super privileged and famous. And live bicoastally. I will not be subjected to so much of the impact that this will have, but other people are not that lucky and they will be affected immediately. They're likely already being affected. So yeah. It is an emotional day. It is a scary day. We have to be vigilant. If again there is any needed motivation for getting out and voting and using our voice and by any and all means necessary protecting the progress we've made, but also fighting like hell for what we still need, please let this be the siren that you need.
Hi Megan. Your team plays in Utah a couple of days. I'm not sure what the laws are in Colorado. My understanding in Utah is that they have some sort of trigger law, anti-abortion law, that goes into effect. What do you want to see U.S. Soccer do when they schedule games in certain locations in states that have anti-abortion laws? How do you feel about playing in Utah in a few days?
I mean, obviously we're not moving the game, and we're not protesting the game. I think, as you guys have seen, the most powerful thing we can always do is show up and not only express our supreme skill and talent and joy on the field, but to be able to have that platform. I think moving forward we should do any and all things necessary as people, organizations, the media, corporations, government, national governing bodies and everybody to ensure the rights and liberties of every single American. So I don't know exactly what that looks like. Thus far we've felt extremely supported by U.S. Soccer, by everyone here individually.
We spoke to Kate [Markgraf] last night, a group of us. Obviously, I've been given this platform and had conversations with [Aaron Heifetz] already. We will always be supported to use our voices, and we always have been in this federation and we will continue that. And I think we understand that as a team we have an incredible platform to do good in the world. And to me, this is not a political issue at all. This is a human rights issue.
And I think the players in U.S. Soccer and everyone in this environment and back home in Chicago feel that same way and will support a group of women who rely on the autonomy of their body to do the thing that they love and to make this circus run. So I think it is only in the benefit of everyone to do whatever we can to provide an environment where the players feel protected, supported, and have the utmost autonomy in their bodies.
JONATHAN TANNENWALD, Philadelphia Inquirer:
Megan, as always, thank you for the time and the candor. As you mentioned a few minutes ago, there are a lot of men in the Supreme Court. And there are a lot of men in Congress and there are a lot of men in the White House and statehouses across the country. And there are a lot of men on this Zoom call, to be frank, who aren't going to have to carry a child through pregnancy as our mothers did. What do you hope that the men say to stand with you all, if you don't mind my asking?
No, not at all. You've been silent to us as a whole. I'm speaking in a monolith. You stand up, say something, like this is your wife. This is your sister. This is your friend. This is your girlfriend. This is the mother of your children. This is all of us, and you 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.
We live in a country that forever tries to chip away at what you have innate, what you have been privileged enough to feel your entire life. So I should not be the loudest voice in the room. 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 sort of onslaught on abortion rights. None of this would be happening. We did not do this ourselves. And I would take it personally, what I'm saying as an accusation, as a come to Jesus moment, as a look in the mirror.
You are complicit in all of this, and you also have the opportunity to do better every single day. You have the opportunity to show up, make your voices heard, whether that's in the workplace, on a media Zoom, in stadiums, in your family, the way that you vote. It is not a women's issue. It is everyone's issue. So this is a call out, but also a call in. We are always willing to have more support and more voices. We clearly cannot do this on our own with the composition of the power structure in our country. And frankly, that falls on you.
Megan always steps up, and I imagine what she did today, in such a thoughtful and composed manner, was especially difficult. We are lucky to have her as a representative of our country, even/especially on days when our country lurches evermore into a fascist, white supremacist theocracy.
Thanks for this... Telling about the state of play in this country that informed, self aware leadership is more likely to come from an athlete than any elected official on either side.