Megan Rapinoe, the US international footballer who has been a leading voice on human-rights issues, has denounced the US Supreme Court’s ruling on abortion as “sad and cruel”.
Protests are under way in the US after the court removed constitutional protection for those seeking abortions.
The court overturned the landmark ruling of Roe v Wade, a move that is likely to lead to bans on abortions in roughly half of US states.
Rapinoe was among those to speak out against the ruling on Friday.
She said: “It’s hard to put into words how sad a day this is for me personally, for my team-mates, for all of the people who are out there who this is going to affect.
“It will completely exacerbate so many of the existing inequalities that we have in our country. It doesn’t keep one single person safer, it doesn’t keep one single child safer, certainly, and it does not keep women safer.
“We know that the lack of abortion does not stop people having abortions, it stops people from having safe abortions.
“I would encourage people to understand all of the different aspects that overturning Roe v Wade will have on everyone in the entire country.
“I just can’t understate how sad and how cruel this is.”
Right to abortion overturned by US Supreme Court
The US Supreme Court has voted to overturn the constitutional right to choose abortion which has existed for almost 50 years, paving the way for half the country to severely restrict or completely ban the practice.
The power to decide on abortion rights for tens of millions of women will now be handed to the 50 states to determine individually.
It is one of the most consequential rulings by the Supreme Court, the highest court in America, in recent history.
Crowds gathered outside the court in Washington DC when the ruling emerged, with some there to celebrate while others rallied against what they see as an attack on women’s freedoms.
Anti-abortion protesters celebrate following the Supreme Court’s decision
The majority of the nine-member panel voted to overturn the court’s landmark 1973 ruling known as ‘Roe versus Wade’ which legalised abortion nationwide up to the point of foetal viability, generally accepted to be around 24 weeks into pregnancy.
At least 25 states are poised to introduce new laws, or reactivate dormant law, which will make it illegal to access abortion in many cases, including, in some instances, where conception has resulted from rape or incest.
Thousands of protesters gathered in Washington to support protecting abortion rights
Many of those states are in the south of the country. Thirteen states have so-called ‘trigger’ laws to ban abortion if Roe was to be overturned.
Kentucky, Louisiana and South Dakota have immediately banned the practice.
Another 10 are set to follow in the comings days and weeks. They are Missouri, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Idaho, Tennessee, Texas, Mississippi, North Dakota, Utah and Wyoming.
“No one should be able to choose to end the life of an innocent baby in the womb,” one woman said outside court. “So I am here to stand up for both the babies and women who have been hurt and killed by abortion.”
But another said: “Women deserve protection – this does not mean abortions are going to stop. I’ve had an abortion, I was 19 years old, I still stay with the grief of that, the shame of that. It’s very nuanced. If we make that choice, it doesn’t mean we’re happy about it. I didn’t have the funding to take care of a child the way I wanted to.”