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Women’s College World Series set to leave Oklahoma over abortion law

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Crissy Perham made her only Olympics in 1992 at the Barcelona Summer Games. She was co-captain of the women’s swimming team with the legendary Dara Torres and won three medals: gold in a world record medley relay team, gold in the 4×100 meters freestyle relay team and silver in the 100m butterfly.

It was also my first Olympic Games. I covered his accomplishments. But I knew nothing of the distress she had overcome until September, almost 30 years later, when she revealed the rest of her story – and the impact it had on her life – at the Supreme Court.

“When I was in college I was on birth control but accidentally got pregnant,” Perham wrote in court. “I was on a scholarship, I was just starting to succeed in my sport and I didn’t want to take a year off. I decided to have an abortion.

“I wasn’t ready to be a mom, and having an abortion made me feel like I had a second chance at life. I was able to take charge of my future…I improved in school, started training really hard and that summer I won my first national championship.

“I made the choice that was right for me and my future, and I stand by my decision. That choice ultimately led me to be an Olympian, a college graduate, and a proud mother today. I finally speak up and share my story because there should be no stigma surrounding personal health care decisions.Women know what is best for their bodies and their lives, and our autonomy should be respected.

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Perham was one of hundreds of female athletes who in September filed an amicus brief opposing a Mississippi law that threatened the landmark decision of Roe vs. Wade ensure access to abortion without government interference. And she was the only one among the amici curiae to waive anonymity when telling her story to highlight how forcing female athletes, according to the memoir, “…to carry pregnancies…could derail athletic careers. , academic future and women’s economic livelihoods at scale”.

That’s why this season’s Women’s College World Series — which is set to end this week in a best-of-three series between defending champion Oklahoma and Texas — should be the last we see in Oklahoma City, where they have been held every year but one since 1990. After all, ever since Perham and other female athletes raised their opposition to growing threats to a woman’s bodily freedom, Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt (R ) and its GOP-controlled legislature have overtaken Mississippi and every other state in restricting access to abortion. They also added a provision, like some other states, to dare to help women seeking to get rid of unwanted pregnancies.

In short, Oklahoma State has just become a state anathema for female athletes. Therefore, he disqualified himself as a women’s sports host.

This, after all, the state and its flagship university, the University of Oklahoma, have done to promote women’s varsity softball into one of the most entertaining and exciting college sports. This, after all, benefited the resulting fans, who last year poured more than $20 million into Oklahoma City’s coffers.

I was one of those fans. And after watching, I thought anchoring the World Series in Oklahoma City deprived the rest of the country of a spectacular event, much like the men’s and women’s basketball championships, which move around the country, and the college football championship game. Why should Oklahoma City be the sole beneficiary?

Others questioned whether the tournament should travel because keeping it in Oklahoma City gives Oklahoma, whose campus is just a half-hour drive south on Interstate 35 in Norman, an unfair advantage. . OU won three of five crowns between 2013 and 2017. But UCLA and Arizona have won more titles in Oklahoma City since 1990 than in Oklahoma. Oklahoma is good because it has two-time National Player of the Year slugger Jocelyn Alo and two of nine other Player of the Year finalists.

The suggestion that Oklahoma City, now dubbed the softball capital of the world, is home to the only world-class stadium, the USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium, worthy of hosting the championship also falls flat. Arizona, Florida, Florida State, LSU, Oregon, Texas A&M, Oregon and Washington have high-end stadiums that could be expanded to rival Oklahoma City’s 14,000 seats .

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But not all are worthy hosts. The Louisiana Legislature on Monday sent Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) an anti-abortion bill similar to one crafted by Oklahoma lawmakers. And Edwards should sign it.

Republican-led legislatures in Arizona and Florida voted in March to ban abortion after 15 weeks, much like the Mississippi law that prompted female athletes to publicly object.

The regressive Texas GOP Legislature and Gov. Greg Abbott (R) codified their so-called Heartbeat Bill the same month Perham and his fellow athletes filed their amicus brief. It prohibits abortion upon detection of cardiac activity, hence its name.

But some of those other stadiums are in women-friendly states that the World Series celebrates. Oregon and Washington protect reproductive rights. Washington Governor Jay Inslee (D) even denounced the leaked draft of a Supreme Court opinion that would dismantle Roe vs. Wade and said her home state would be a sanctuary for women from elsewhere who suddenly found themselves with no choice in their own state. “They will be welcome and they will be safe,” Inslee announced.

Oklahoma is no longer welcoming the young women who made Oklahoma City the place to be in early June. The NCAA should respect what is becoming its new cash cow and find a more welcoming place for young female athletes.