1992 Gold Medalist Crissy Perham Speaks On Joining Supreme Court Abortion Case

Three-time Olympic medalist Crissy Perham opened up on why she joined the Supreme Court fight over abortion with ESPN in an interview that was published Wednesday.

Perham was one of more than 500 professional, college and high school athletes that signed onto a 73-page amicus brief to the Court in September, asking justices to overturn a Mississippi law banning abortions after 15 weeks.

The case is viewed as having direct implications to the 1973 Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade, which protected a pregnant woman’s right to privacy in choosing whether to have an abortion.

Perham revealed that she made the decision to have an abortion in 1990 during her sophomore year at the University of Arizona, and ultimately went on to win three swimming medals at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona.

It wasn’t until recently that she stepped forward and shared the story publicly.

“I think the reason it’s really important that I speak out and share my story is there’s such a finite time to be the elite athlete you want to be,” Perham told ESPN. “That time, that little small window, it needs to be taken advantage of.

“I’m sure there are obvious exceptions to the rules, but for the most part collegiate athletes, they are young. And this is going to be the only time that they get to do their sport. That they might not go pro. I think that’s why it’s important to have body autonomy and to have this reproductive healthcare choice.”

Perham says the decision to have an abortion played a pivotal role in keeping her athletic career on track as she entered her prime years in swimming.

“What it did was give me an opportunity to stay on the path that I was currently on rather than deviate for maybe a year or two and maybe never come back to that path,” she said. “So it’s not the Olympics and it’s not the gold medal. If you hadn’t had an abortion, could you have done that? Maybe? I don’t know, but I know that I did it without a child and that was what my goal was.

“So, I took the opportunity to take care of my reproductive health in a lawful, legal way. And in the end, as part of the growing process, I did become an elite athlete. I didn’t have to deviate off that path and I got to grow up in my sport and become a leader and it literally changed my life.”

Now 51, Perham won gold on the U.S. women’s 400 freestyle and 400 medley relays in Barcelona, and added an individual silver in the 100 butterfly. She also owns Long Course World Championship and Pan Pac gold medals from the 400 medley relay in 1991, as well as a silver in the 100 fly from those Pan Pacs in Edmonton.

On Wednesday, the Court heard arguments in the case, and will have until the end of June 2022 to make a ruling.

You can find Perham’s full interview with ESPN here.

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CardsFanAgain
1 year ago

Ridiculous article used to stir the pot

NOT the frontman of Metallica
1 year ago

Good, no one should have to go through an unwanted pregnancy against their will. I’m fairly sure this is only a debate because it’s women who are left with all the consequences.
If men could get pregnant there would be drive-thru abortion clinics and day-after-pills would come in various flavors.

Julie Smiddy
1 year ago

Because life is swimming and gold medals . How cheap!

Carol
Reply to  Julie Smiddy
1 year ago

At that point in her life it was. That’s actually okay believe it or not. Her priorities would change, as they do for everyone, as she got older.
As the classic saying goes, if Americans called schools “uteruses” then maybe conservatives would care about school shootings. Because conservatives only seem to care about unwanted children while they are still in the womb. After that they don’t give a toss. I’m very glad my daughter and I live in Australia, not America.

abortion is healthcare
Reply to  Carol
1 year ago

👏🏼

Julie Smiddy
Reply to  Carol
1 year ago

Condolences to you and the popular swimming community of for a meaningless life.

Carol
Reply to  Julie Smiddy
1 year ago

I’m very happy with my life. It’s not meaningless. In fact, I’m in healthcare and I help people every day. Abortion is healthcare. Julie, are you willing to look after all of these unwanted children?

Doconc
Reply to  Carol
1 year ago

Unwanted by who? You?
Loved since the foundation of time by their Creator

Julie Smiddy
Reply to  Carol
1 year ago

Carol:
No need to be defensive.You may think you are in health care and you may think you are happy. My guess is you are deceiving yourself with popular opinion.
I am so sorry.
My heart aches for you and those who are in assent.

Aquajosh
1 year ago

For those who don’t recognize the name, Crissy Perham = Crissy Ahmann-Leighton

Dee
1 year ago

I’m not American or female, so I acknowledge my opinion is not relevant here, but I find this political obsession with abortion in the US deeply strange. You seem to have two camps, pro-life saying no abortions ever, and pro-choice saying abortions at any time during pregnancy, even mid to late term. As a European, I just don’t understand either – Both stances seem retrograde and cruel. Is it not just common sense that abortions should be free and accesible, and women should be free to choose without duress, and also that the law has to set reasonable limitations on terms?

JoelM
Reply to  Dee
1 year ago

I mean obviously you aren’t from the US. Your point contains common sense. Jeeze

Steve Nolan
Reply to  Dee
1 year ago

You seem to have two camps, pro-life saying no abortions ever, and pro-choice saying abortions at any time during pregnancy, even mid to late term.

The outer edges of pro-choice advocates may fit into that camp – a tiny percentage of the whole, perhaps – but the way you’ve described the pro-life camp is basically what Texas’s new law is in reality.

tiny hands
Reply to  Dee
1 year ago

What you are describing IS the prevailing view among Americans, who in general support the right to abortion. That support is strongest in the 1st trimester and decreases significantly for 3rd trimester pregnancies. Our electoral system is strongly biased in favor of Republicans (and by extension, so is the Supreme Court) so policies that enjoy widespread public support can be blocked by a minority ruling party and/or archaic operating protocols that give a minority outsize influence over policymaking.

abortion is healthcare
1 year ago

hell yeah, Chrissy! thank you for sharing your story and fighting for women in this country.

i read a comment here saying that women who don’t want to get pregnant in the first place shouldn’t be having sex. and to that, i have to assume you aren’t a woman. i’m not a woman either, so i can’t speak from that perspective, but sex isn’t just about making children. sex is allowed to be pleasurable and fun without consequence. women do not need to be burdened with a full term pregnancy if it is not a part of their life plan. as men, we do not have to be burdened with that, so why would we expect women to put their… Read more »

abortion is healthcare
Reply to  abortion is healthcare
1 year ago

***Crissy

Steve Nolan
1 year ago

Good for her.

SwimFan1
1 year ago

It amazes me that people can, with a straight face, make the argument that their personal convenience was worth slaughtering a child. You killed your child so you could keep swimming.

abortion is healthcare
Reply to  SwimFan1
1 year ago

abortions do not involve killing anyone. fetuses are not alive, just making that clear.

Julie Smiddy
Reply to  abortion is healthcare
1 year ago

Follow the science! Not your feelings or popularity group!

Julie Smiddy
Reply to  SwimFan1
1 year ago

Agreed. Let’s kill babies then go play! It is reprehensible!

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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