National Women's Soccer League commissioner Jessica Berman confirmed a state's reproductive rights will be one of the factors considered when the league looks at 2024 expansion options.
Berman told Anne M. Peterson of the Associated Press on Thursday the U.S. Supreme Court's recent ruling to overturn the Roe v. Wade precedent, thus removing federal abortion protections, and states' subsequent laws either banning or restricting abortion were discussed at a recent NWSL Board of Governors meeting, which also included talk of potentially adding two franchises.
"It's one of the things that we're actually currently analyzing, which is looking even at our current markets to see where we have some differentiation between our values and what we stand behind relative to where we have teams located, and what are the solutions we can put in place that we feel comfortable we can commit to and execute on," Berman said. "Certainly in the context of expansion that would be part of the analysis."
The league already features teams in three states, Florida, Kentucky and Texas, that have implemented restrictive abortion laws, per Peterson.
Megan Rapinoe, a longtime standout on the U.S. women's national team who plays for the NWSL's OL Reign, was among those to speak out following the Supreme Court ruling.
"We know that the lack of abortion does not stop people from having abortions. It stops people from having safe abortions," Rapinoe told reporters on June 24. "I would encourage people to understand all of the different aspects that overturning Roe v. Wade will have on so many, actually on everyone in the entire country. I just can't understate how sad and how cruel this is. I think the cruelty is the point, because this is not pro-life by any means."
U.S. Soccer also released a statement about the court's decision:
The NWSL, which currently features 12 teams, is looking to expand to 14 franchises by 2024.