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Confusion At College Sports Institutions over Abortion Bans

By: Emily Wan

After the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v Wade, abortion bans have been implemented in 20 states and many more are threatening to do so, causing confusion in college sports institutions.

Usually, when an athlete gets pregnant, school officials can refer to a “pregnancy toolkit” provided by the NCAA, which includes a flowchart detailing how to respond to the expecting player. The athlete can choose to carry out the pregnancy or choose to abort. As coaches and athletic department officials are especially involved in college athlete’s health care and livelihood, this can be a potential issue.

College coaches and officials also expressed concern that the issue of abortion access was not addressed in many athletic departments. A Division I women’s soccer coach in a state where there are abortion bans said on the topic of athlete pregnancies, “I don’t think there’s enough information. If there is, I haven’t been able to find it.” Advocates say that access to that information is critical as young athletes depend on the state of their bodies for chances at professional careers or college opportunities.

Additionally, according to data compiled by The Washington Post, elite women’s sport programs are often concentrated in states where abortion access is severely restricted or threatened. In volleyball, only one of the top 10 programs last season was in a state where abortion access is protected. In women’s basketball and softball, only four of the top 25 programs were in states with abortion protections. Some coaches argue that abortion rights would affect recruitment in college sports while others say it’s too early to tell. An athletic department official from a state with an abortion ban says that “In terms of recruiting, I think it absolutely will make a difference.”

Overall, as college sports officials prepare to face the aftermath of the ruling, Nell Fortner, a prominent women’s soccer coach, said in June that “My biggest message with my kids here is that we as women had a fundamental right that’s been taken away from us. Whether you believe in it or not, whether you think it’s right or wrong, this is a lawful right that we do not have anymore.”

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