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Women take knee at US national crit championships after Supreme Court overturns Roe v Wade

“I felt in my gut that I wanted to do something,” said Heidi Franz, one of the organisers behind the protest

As the United States comes to terms with the Supreme Court’s decision to remove the constitutional right to an abortion, over half of the elite women’s field at the US national crit championships took the knee in protest during the pre-race national anthem.

Coryn Labecki, Kaia Schmid, Heidi Franz and Alexis Ryan were among the riders who took the knee as part of “a moment of solidarity” before the race, which was won by Ryan’s sister, Kendall Ryan.

Around half of the country’s states are expected to ban or severely curtail access to abortion services after the Supreme Court overturned the landmark 1973 Roe v Wade ruling, which granted federal protection for women choosing to terminate a pregnancy.

Tennessee, where the US Pro National Championships are currently being held in Knoxville, is one of several states which has a so-called “trigger law” in place, enabling an abortion ban to take effect within 30 days of the Supreme Court’s ruling.

The decision to take the knee – a form of protest at sporting events popularised by NFL player Colin Kaepernick’s campaign against police racism – before the criterium championships was made by a number of riders in the hours leading up the race.

“I felt in my gut that I wanted to do something, so I reached out to other people to see what their feelings were as well,” InstaFund Racing’s Heidi Franz told VeloNews.

“My teammate Maddy [Ward] had told me that one of the pro men’s racers had reached out to her and asked if we were organizing anything, so then it was like, we should really do something.

“I care a lot about these things, and I care a lot about standing up for ourselves, and standing up for other people,” she said.

Alexis Ryan - Roe v Wade protest, US nationals

“The national championship is a symbol of patriotism,” Alexis Ryan, who announced on Instagram that the protest would take place, said before the race.

“And it’s obviously a really tragic moment for women in this country, what happened today.

“I think as athletes, we are role models to younger women, but we are also role models to the entire world, and I think it’s important for us to speak our minds and make a statement with what we’re doing here.”

Lead image credit: Clara Beard

Ryan joined road.cc in December 2021 and since then has kept the site’s readers and listeners informed and enthralled (well at least occasionally) on news, the live blog, and the road.cc Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as road.cc’s senior news writer. Before his foray into cycling journalism, he wallowed in the equally pitiless world of academia, where he wrote a book about Victorian politics and droned on about cycling and bikes to classes of bored students (while taking every chance he could get to talk about cycling in print or on the radio). He can be found riding his bike very slowly around the narrow, scenic country lanes of Co. Down.

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68 comments

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Rendel Harris replied to sparrowlegs | 1 year ago
2 likes

sparrowlegs wrote:

At least I don't revel in the taking of lives Rendel. You compare me to "that german" when you were loving coming up with more reasons to kill unborn children. 

I've not once said revoking RvW is right. What I've said is the termination of life is something that should, if possible, be avoided and that abortion shouldn't be used as contraception. You'd think that was the sane thing to say but no, not when Renny and his lot are about. Death to anything that hasn't been spawned yet. But why stop at that eh? Using your logic as long as you gave birth to it you can get rid of it eh?

Golly. Seek help.

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sparrowlegs replied to Rendel Harris | 1 year ago
0 likes

I don't need to. I work out my frustrations arguing with people on websites. Calms me down a treat 😂

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alexuk | 1 year ago
3 likes

Waste of time. Abortion hasn't been banned; the right to determine abortion law no longer resides with the Feds' but with elected officials at the state-level. Make your voice heard at the ballot box; residents of each state can have the laws they want. The world has tired of virtue-signalling in sport. 

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Rendel Harris replied to alexuk | 1 year ago
11 likes

alexuk wrote:

Waste of time. Abortion hasn't been banned; the right to determine abortion law no longer resides with the Feds' but with elected officials at the state-level. Make your voice heard at the ballot box; residents of each state can have the laws they want. The world has tired of virtue-signalling in sport. 

Yeah, pack it in women, just because in large parts of your country control of what a woman can do with her body has just been handed to legislatures dominated by male religious zealots who won't let you have an abortion even if you're raped, or a victim of incest, or if the baby will die in agony a few days after it's born, stop your virtue signalling!

It's no good saying "residents of each state can have the laws they want" as if that's fine, the reason why federal law is so important in the US is because it keeps a check on what individual states can do, so for example no state could reinstate Jim Crow laws because that would be illegal under federal law. Abortion is very much one of the issues that should be controlled by federal law rather than allowing a woman's fundamental rights to bodily autonomy depend on her state of residence.

 

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EddyBerckx replied to alexuk | 1 year ago
2 likes

Your choice to fuck off and not watch it?

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AlsoSomniloquism replied to EddyBerckx | 1 year ago
6 likes

Weird has the only people I have seen get "tired of virtue signalling" in Sport are the people who decide to boo an anti-racism gesture. Of course certain people and organisations will state it is not that aspect of it and make up other excuses on why they don't support it. 

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ShutTheFrontDawes | 1 year ago
3 likes

This is truly amazing. I am sure a few kneecaps touching the ground will make federal and state lawmakers stand up, pay attention and change their ways. Just like 'taking the knee' in other sports has had such a positive effect on racism, school shootings, etc etc.

If they really gave a shit, the tabs would boycott this Tennessee-based event altogether.

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TheBillder replied to ShutTheFrontDawes | 1 year ago
15 likes
ShutTheFrontDawes wrote:

Just like 'taking the knee' in other sports has had such a positive effect on racism, school shootings, etc etc.

6 years on from Colin Kaepernick starting this, people are still talking about it. Such a protest may seem insincere or worse, but without really inconveniencing people too much, it has kept issues in the public eye.

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