After opening up about her own abortion, Olympic medalist Sanya Richards-Ross says that abortions amongst track and field athletes are way more common than you would expect. In fact, she says that she doesn't know a female track athlete who hasn't had an abortion.
In a new interview with Sports Illustrated's Now program, Richards-Ross said that as common as abortion is amongst the athletes she knows, it's rarely ever discussed.
"The truth is it's an issue that's not really talked about, especially in sports, and a lot of young women have experienced this," she said. "I literally don't know another female track-and-field athlete who hasn't had an abortion—and that's sad."
She also said that she wanted to open up about her own abortion to help educate others about pregnancy and menstrual cycles — something that she believes many unfortunately lack knowledge in.
"At that time in your life, when you're in college, you don't feel comfortable talking to your mom." she said. "So, a lot of the information you get is from your peers."
This sort of mindset, she said, is especially rampant amongst athletes due to the pressure they face to be "fit."
"It's going to sound silly to some people but, in our community, people don't want to take the pill because you put water weight on," she continued. "And then people tell you when you're extremely fit, you can't get pregnant because our [menstrual] cycles are shorter. So, there's a lot of miseducation that happens to young women in college, because we're educating ourselves."
Richards-Ross, who recently revealed that she had an abortion shortly before the 2008 summer games, said that it's important for her to speak about her experience to break down the stigma surrounding abortions, and to help raise awareness for others.
"For me, I'm hoping that this will open up some discussions, to helping especially a lot of young women who were in my situation not experience what I did," she told SI Now.
Refinery29 has reached out to Richards-Ross's representatives for comment, and will update this story if we hear back.
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