Last week, Planned Parenthood Generation Action (PPGA) shared an opportunity for Kenyon student-athletes and athletic staff to sign onto an amicus brief to be submitted in the Jackson Women’s Health Organization v. Dobbs Supreme Court case in December.
The case is highly controversial, revolving around Mississippi’s decision to ban all abortions after 15 weeks, with exemptions only for medical emergencies and cases of severe fetal abnormalities. A federal judge and representatives from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit blocked this ban for being in violation of the statute in Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decision in 1973 that guaranteed a woman’s legal right to abortion. Many see the Mississippi decision as an attempt to overturn the verdict of the Roe case.
The New York City-based law firm Boies Schiller is filing the amicus brief on behalf of the signees. An amicus brief — also known as a friend of the court brief — is a petition signed by people with strong interests in the argument at hand, and are considered by the court when making its decision. This brief is one of over a thousand that have been submitted by both sides, according to NPR.
The overall purpose of this brief is to demonstrate the wide array of people who would be affected by such strict abortion laws, including athletes of various gender identities. Athletes who are able to get pregnant are just one example of the many groups vulnerable to the ramifications of the Mississipi abortion ban, an issue which the Boies Schiller brief aims to communicate to the Supreme Court.
“These athletes’ lived experiences might put a human face on abortion to help the Justices understand why protecting this right is critical,” Boies Schiller wrote in an email urging people to sign the brief.
PPGA focuses on advancing reproductive rights, such as those represented by this brief. Student-athletes showed their support for abortion rights by signing the brief via a Google Form.
PPGA said the brief was focused purely on demonstrating the support of 500-plus athletes who oppose Mississippi’s ban.
The Kenyon signatories join a long list of both professional and collegiate athletes who have added their names to the brief. Notable signatures include those of professional soccer player Megan Rapinoe and professional basketball player Sue Bird.