WNBA union condemns Texas abortion law in ‘New York Times’ ad

The players' union used a full-page ad to oppose Texas' controversial new law.

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The Women’s National Basketball Players Association (WNBPA), the players’ union for the WNBA, took a very pointed jab at Texas’ new abortion ban by posting a full-page ad in Sunday’s print edition of the New York Times.

“You come for one of us, you come for all of us! ” Minnesota Lynx player Layshia Clarendon, the first openly nonbinary WNBA athlete, wrote in their caption accompanying a copy of the ad.

“Abortion, birth control, and fertility care are vital—not just for athletes who can get pregnant, but for all families and gender identities,” the WNBPA wrote. “That’s why we as members of the WNBPA are proud to stand with everyone who’s fighting back against the cruel abortion bans in Texas and across the country.”

“Reproductive rights are human rights. Family planning is freedom,” the ad states. “… Because this isn’t just our fight. It’s everyones. Our bodies, our health, and our futures are our OWN. Together, let’s tell politicians to keep their hands off our reproductive rights – and their #BansOffOurBodies.”

The WNBA partnered with three reproductive rights groups including Planned Parenthood, Athletes for Impact and Seeding Sovereignty to take out the ad.

“You’ve seen the players stand up in a myriad of ways,” WNBPA Executive Director Terri Jackson told The 19th. “We haven’t done this before.”  

“We’re putting a stake in the ground,” said Clarendon, who spearheaded the ad. “This directly affects a lot of people in our league as a women’s league and a league of people with uteruses.” 

To date, over 500 women athletes, including WNBA members, called on the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold abortion rights in an amicus brief filed in September. 

“That was kind of the start,” Jackson said. After that, more players wanted to know more about the law and what they could do personally. 

“We just want to be an example and be a shining light, but it’s cool to see there were so many different athletes who signed that brief,” Clarendon said. 

5 Jun 2001: A shot of the WNBA Basket Ball during the game between the Washington Mystics and the Sacramento Monarchs at the MCI Center in Washington, D.C. The Mystics defeated the Monarchs 75-72. NOTE TO USER: It is expressly understood that the only rights Allsport are offering to license in this Photograph are one-time, non-exclusive editorial rights. No advertising or commercial uses of any kind may be made of Allsport photos. User acknowledges that it is aware that Allsport is an editorial sports agency and that NO RELEASES OF ANY TYPE ARE OBTAINED from the subjects contained in the photographs.Mandatory Credit: Doug Pensinger /Allsport

Earlier this month, a federal judge ordered Texas to suspend the most restrictive abortion law in the U.S., which since September has banned most abortions in the nation’s second-most populous state.

The order by U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman is the first legal blow to the Texas law known as Senate Bill 8, which until now had withstood a wave of early challenges. In the weeks since the restrictions took effect, Texas abortion providers say the impact has been “exactly what we feared.”

In a 113-page opinion, Pitman took Texas to task over the law, saying Republicans lawmakers had “contrived an unprecedented and transparent statutory scheme” to deny patients their constitutional right to an abortion.

“From the moment S.B. 8 went into effect, women have been unlawfully prevented from exercising control over their lives in ways that are protected by the Constitution,” Pitman wrote. “That other courts may find a way to avoid this conclusion is theirs to decide; this Court will not sanction one more day of this offensive deprivation of such an important right.”

But even with the law on hold, abortion services in Texas may not instantly resume because doctors still fear that they could be sued without a more permanent legal decision.

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