Olympic Gold Medalist Runner: 'Every Female Athlete I Know Has Had An Abortion'

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United States four-time Olympic gold medalist runner Sanya Richards-Ross has revealed that she had an abortion at 23 years of age, just days before boarding a plane to the 2008 Beijing games where she took home a bronze and a gold. 

Richards-Ross is also shining a light on the rife, hush-hush abortions happening in the world of women's track and field. "I literally don't know another female track and field athlete who hasn't had an abortion - and that's sad," the athlete told Sports Illustrated Now. 
As noted by Life News, Richards-Ross said she prayed for two years about potentially sharing her painful abortion story with the world. "It was an extremely painful, private experience, and only a few people in her life knew about it." Although she is still dealing with the pain of her experience, often crying over the loss of her child, she chose to come forward in her new autobiography, Chasing Grace: What the Quarter Mile Has Taught Me about God and Life

Richards-Ross is hopeful that her story of finding grace and forgiveness through God will help other post-abortive mothers find the same healing. 

The star athlete found out she was pregnant just before the 2008 Olympic games. She and her then-fiance and now-husband, New York Giant Aaron Ross, unsuccessfully used natural family planning to avoid a pregnancy; Richards-Ross, like other runners, was not on a pill form of birth control out of fear of retaining water and gaining weight. 

“Everything I ever wanted seemed to be within reach,” wrote the athlete in Chasing Grace. “The culmination of a lifetime of work was right before me. In that moment, it seemed like no choice at all."

Richards-Ross said she even debated "when life begins" in her head, but ultimately fell victim to the pressure to uphold her image. 

"The debate of when life begins swirled through my head, and the veil of a child out of wedlock at the prime of my career seemed unbearable," she wrote. "What would my sponsors, my family, my church, and my fans think of me?”

The athlete also highlighted the toxic mentality in female track and field of valuing athletic accomplishments over human life. 

“Prioritizing athletic goals over the gift of life was the norm," she said. "It was all around me, but not until it was me did I realize many of these young women only wore a mask of indifference for something I can now testify requires deep thought and proper counsel." 

Although her abortionist advised Richards-Ross to avoid running for at least 14 days, the athlete ran anyway. "I didn't have 14 days," she recalled. 

Richards-Ross fell short of the gold medal expectation for the 400-meter run, taking home a bronze, though she did snag a gold in a relay effort.

The runner said she underwent deep emotional suffering over the abortion while in Beijing, though she says she began to also feel God. 

“God wrapped his arms around me,” she explained. “He just hugged me and told me he loved me, and I knew I would be ok. God has already forgiven me, now I need to forgive myself.”

The Olympic gold medalist hopes her experience will shine a light on the rampant abortions within athletics and be used as a model to help heal other post-abortive women. 

“I’ve always wanted God to use me to help other people. Ultimately, I did it to glorify God and to tell people that you can come back from any decision no matter how hard it is to make, you can still have God with you on the journey," she said during a recent podcast. 

Richards-Ross and her husband are expecting their second child this summer. 

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