During a promotional tour for her new memoir – Chasing Grace – Christian sprinter Sanya Richards-Ross shared a sobering fact: every female track athlete she knows has had an abortion.
The revelation was a particularly painful one for the four-time Olympic gold medalist who herself had an abortion only two weeks before the 2008 Beijing Games.
While talking with Sports Illustrated, Richards-Ross expounded on the reasons abortion is so pervasive in the running community and shed some light on the redemption she has found in the nearly ten years since her own difficult decision.
“The truth is, [abortion] is an issue that’s not really talked about – especially in sports,” Richards-Ross told host Maggie Gray. “And a lot of young women have experienced this.”
That’s one reason Richards-Ross authored Chasing Grace – she hopes it will open that discussion in a community rife with unplanned pregnancy.
“I literally don’t know another female track athlete who hasn’t had an abortion,” the runner stated sadly.
Richards-Ross blames the pervasiveness of the issue on ignorance. Young female athletes are sexually active without being informed. For example, believing that their shorter menstrual cycles will preclude pregnancy, many don’t use birth control. And since the pill leads to water weight, some eschew that option to remain as light and lean as possible.
The result? Abortion, which as Richards-Ross knows, takes not only a physical, but emotional and spiritual toll. But regret is not something the liberal media likes to talk about.
And for a long time, the Olympian and her now-husband Aaron Ross, also didn’t talk about their aborted child. But their relationship strengthened when they opened up, acknowledged the grief, and forgave themselves and each other.
Now, seven years after her marriage to Ross, the runner is joyfully expecting a son.
“[Ross] thought for a long time, maybe we were being punished ’cause we didn’t— we hadn’t gotten pregnant again,” Richards-Ross explained.
“Sometimes you believe those lies when you make poor choices and you want to live your life a certain way,” she reflected.
But after coming to grips with their sin and asking God for forgiveness, the couple grew closer than ever. And now, Richards-Ross is using her difficult journey to help other women.