Shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday overturned the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion rights nationwide, the Storm released a statement pledging the franchise is “ready to fight” for women.
“Now we have come to this: People have won the freedom to buy guns with impunity while women have lost the freedom to decide their own future,” the tweet read. “Furious & ready to fight.”
The Women’s National Basketball Players Association also condemned the Supreme Court decision that’s expected to lead to abortion bans in nearly half of the states in the country.
“This decision shows a branch of government that is so out of touch with the country and any sense of human dignity,” the WNBPA said in a statement. “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 statement went on to urge people to “vote like our lives depend on it. Because they do.”
Following Friday’s practice at Climate Pledge Arena, Storm guard Sue Bird, who serves as vice president on the WNBPA executive committee, also weighed in on the decision.
“It’s heartbreaking,” Bird said. “I saw our union’s statement and our team’s statement, which I thought was strong and perfect. And at the same time, I’m struck by it’s women who are saying those things. We’re at a place now where we realize it has to be men who are also making these statements and supporting in these ways, because it does impact everybody. It’s about women’s bodies. It’s about choice, but it impacts everybody. I just wish the rest of the country would see that.”
On Friday the Supreme Court voted 6-3 to overturn Roe v. Wade, in a ruling that was split among the court’s ideological lines.
Justice Samuel Alito, who comprised a conservative bloc with Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett and Clarence Thomas, wrote the majority opinion, which read in part: “the Constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision.”
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 support overturning Roe.
Meanwhile, Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan penned a seething 59-page dissent that read in part, “The majority has overruled Roe and Casey for one and only one reason: because it has always despised them, and now it has the votes to discard them.”
Storm star Jewell Loyd had difficulty coming to grips with the landmark decision.
“It’s kind of wild to understand how there’s nine people who control so much for [millions] of people,” she said. “I feel like that starts the issue. People shouldn’t tell other people what they should do.
“It’s affecting society. It’s hard the times that we’re living in now. I think it’s sad, because I know it’s going to put a lot of people in bad situations regardless of if you’re pro-life or pro-choice.”
Bird echoed those sentiments.
“It’s a really sad day for our country and everybody in it,” she said. “I’m pro-choice and the part that I just can’t understand is how people who are pro-life, that’s your choice, but to put your opinions on someone else is where I don’t understand it.
“And it’s sad, because it’s not necessarily going to impact anyone on our team directly. We’re in positions of privilege and power as athletes. It’s going to impact others way worse. That’s why it’s even more important for our union and our team to take the stance that they take and make the statements they make and for us to continue to talk on things. People tell us to shut up and dribble, and this is why we can’t.”
On Thursday night, the Storm, the WNBA and the sports celebrated the 50th anniversary of Title IX, a federal law that ensures equal opportunity for women and men from any institution that receives federal assistance.
And on Friday morning, “We wake up seeing news that Roe v. Wade is overturned,” Bird said. “It’s very odd. The timing of it all is so sad. It’s just so sad. It’s hard to understand it.”
Bird said she feels “heartbroken” but believes those feelings will subside and spur her to action.
“I’m sure over time that turns into motivation where you talk about the ways in which you can help and the ways in which you can help create change,” she said. “Something we learned as a league and I learned as a person is you just got to continue to vote. You got to continue to encourage people to vote.
“Presidential elections are important and have always been important, but even more important — and this is something that I’ve learned — is the primaries and the midterms. That’s where the real change happens at those state levels.”
WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert and NBA commissioner Adam Silver issued a joint statement that read: “The NBA and WNBA believe that women should be able to make their own decisions concerning their health and future, and we believe that freedom should be protected. We will continue to advocate for gender and health equity, including ensuring our employees have access to reproductive health care, regardless of their location.”
As part of its groundbreaking 2020 collective-bargaining agreement, the WNBA and WNBPA adopted provisions including fully paid maternity leave, reimbursement for fertility support and adoption fees, child-care stipend and policies that support players who are out due to pregnancy.
Storm star Breanna Stewart, who had a child via surrogate in August, is concerned about the future of her daughter, Ruby, following Friday’s decision.
“It’s really gut-wrenching and heartbreaking to think that people have more rights with guns than women do,” Stewart said. “Something like half of the states now have the option for an abortion, it’s just taking away our freedoms.
“Everyone says the United States is the best country in the world, and lately it doesn’t seem like that. If you look at everything going on with gun violence and taking away women’s rights, it’s just really a step backward.
“You would think we would be progressing in the right direction and, as of late, we’re going the wrong way.”