Note: This story was set to run earlier but was delayed because of technical problems.
Yesterday, New York City FC issued a statement on Twitter and Instagram condemning the Supreme Court ruling that eliminated the constitutional right to abortion, calling “the removal of these rights unacceptable.”
NYCFC joined other MLS clubs taking a public stand on this issue, a group that includes Seattle Sounders, LAFC, Portland Timbers, Orlando City SC, and Chicago Fire. Gotham FC of the NWSL, which is part-owned by New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, also issued a statement that declared the club “vehemently objects to any rollback of Roe v. Wade and believes that reproductive rights are human rights.”
The Supreme Court’s seismic ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization reverberated through New York, where mass protests took place across the city. While the decision will have no direct effect on reproductive rights in New York, it will immediately prompt changes in states with so-called “trigger laws” that are set to be enacted in case of a Supreme Court ruling such as this one. Reproductive rights in the United States, which are already the most restrictive among G20 nations, are about to become even more limited.
For example, should the trigger law in Texas go into effect, the Lone Star State will allow abortions only if the life of the mother is at risk. That means Texas will follow the same guidelines for abortion used in Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, and a little more than 25 other nations. It’s unusually strict, even by the standards of socially conservative countries. Unlike Texas, places such as Algeria and Jordan take the general health of the person giving birth into consideration, while Turkey and Tunisia place no limits on abortion: The citizens of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia will have more reproductive rights than the residents of Texas.
In fact, the Texas law is essentially a total ban on all abortions — it might claim to allow the procedure to save the life of the mother, but exactly what that means is unclear because of the confusing, unscientific language used in this bill. It is expected that medical professionals will not perform abortions under any circumstances for fear of running afoul of the law. That will put Texas in the same category as the most restrictive countries in the world, a group of approximately 15 nations that includes Iraq, the Republic of Congo, Sierra Leone, and the West Bank and Gaza.
That's just one state. Wisconsin doesn't have a trigger law, but instead will revert to a piece of legislation passed in 1849 that will allow abortions only to save the life of the mother, which, according to the vague wording, might require a doctor to be “advised by 2 other physicians.” There is already a movement in Wisconsin to ban all abortions, with no exception made to save the life of the mother.
All of this prompts the question: Should the issue of abortion rights have a place in professional sports? It depends on how you look at it. If you see this as just another part of the ongoing political grappling in our nation’s capitol, then no. NYCFC doesn’t weigh in on the federal budget, or the masking mandate discussed in Biden v. Missouri. By that standard, there’s no reason for the organization to take a stand on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.
But if you see this as an issue that directly undermines “gender equality, inclusion, and justice,” to quote NYCFC’s statement, then yes, the club is right to stake out a position. Gender equality, inclusion, and justice are as essential as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness — they are fundamental rights that should be defended.
In his opinion, Associate Justice Samuel Alito reasons that because abortion isn’t specifically discussed in the constitution, it’s not a constitutional right, and therefore doesn't deserve the protection of the court. He wrote, “Roe, however, was remarkably loose in its treatment of the constitutional text. It held that the abortion right, which is not mentioned in the Constitution, is part of a right to privacy, which is also not mentioned.”
Alito goes on to assert that this ruling is limited only to abortion, and will affect no other issues. But in his concurring opinion, Associate Justice Clarence Thomas sees this case as a precedent that should be used to overturn rulings that protect other rights he dislikes, such as contraception and marriage equality. Thomas wrote, “...in future cases, we should reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents, including Griswold [contraception], Lawrence [marriage equality], and Obergefell [marriage equality].” He goes on to state that “we have a duty to ‘correct the error’ established in those precedents.”
In the eyes of Thomas, the legal protection of abortion, contraception, and gay marriage are all errors that need to be fixed.
Let’s return to the question we asked above: Does this discussion belong in Hudson River Blue, “your best source for spicy takes and breaking news” on all things NYCFC? Nope, not at all. If the Supreme Court hadn't issued an opinion that immediately proposes a direct threat to members of the NYCFC community, and sets out to provide cover for future rulings that will criminalize the marriages and private lives of the people who read these words, there would be no need to write or publish this post.