The Women's National Basketball Players Association reacted to the U.S. Supreme Court decision to overturn a woman's constitutional right to an abortion by focusing on voting rights and urging people to "vote like our lives depend on it. Because they do."
In a statement, the WNBPA said, "This decision shows a branch of government that is so out of touch with the country and any sense of human dignity."
"We must recognize that when we cast a ballot it is to elect officials and to connect the dots to policies and legislation that align with our values," the WNBPA said.
The Supreme Court on Friday voted 5-4 to overturn Roe v. Wade, a decision expected to lead to abortion bans in roughly half the states. The ruling came more than a month after the leak of a draft opinion by Justice Samuel Alito indicating the court was prepared to take this momentous step, and it was supported by the court's conservative majority.
Alito, in the final opinion, wrote that the original 1972 decision on Roe and a 1992 decision reaffirming it (Planned Parenthood v. Casey) were "wrong the days they were decided and must be overturned."
Alito wrote that the authority to regulate abortion rests with the political branches of government and not the courts. The decision leaves it up to the states.
"We therefore hold that the Constitution does not confer a right to abortion. Roe and Casey must be overruled, and the authority to regulate abortion must be returned to the people and their elected representatives," Alito wrote.
Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett and Clarence Thomas joined the majority. Chief Justice John Roberts voted to uphold a Mississippi law that banned abortion after 15 weeks and prompted the case to get to the Supreme Court, but he didn't vote to overturn Roe.
The ruling is expected to lead to abortion bans in about half of the states, some beginning immediately.
Three of the court's liberal justices wrote in a joint dissent that the decision would bring "sorrow" for the many millions of American women who will be losing a "fundamental constitutional protection." The WNBPA statement said an abortion ban "could lead to higher rates of maternal mortality while eviscerating rights to reproductive freedom for everyone."
In September, a number of prominent women athletes, including soccer star Megan Rapinoe and basketball standouts Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird, joined 500 athletes and groups who signed a friend-of-the-court brief to the justices. The group included 26 Olympians, 73 professional athletes and various athlete associations. They argued that abortion rights have helped the growth of women's sports and expressed concern that future athletes would suffer without those protections.
The much-anticipated ruling, applauded by pro-life conservatives, was decried by a number of prominent athletes on social media.
Tennis legend Billie Jean King wrote: "This decision will not end abortion ... it is a sad day in the United States."
Information from The Associated Press is included in this report.