Track star and Olympic gold medalist Sanya Richards-Ross "fell into the depths of despair" after having an abortion just weeks before competing in the 2008 Games, she wrote in her newly-released memoir Chasing Grace.
Aborting her baby "seemed like no choice at all," Richards-Ross recalled in an excerpt published by People.
"Everything I ever wanted seemed to be within reach. The culmination of a lifetime of work was right before me ... 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. What would my sponsors, my family, my church, and my fans think of me?"
"Over the phone, we [my fiancé and I] didn’t go into details," the Jamaican-American athlete wrote. "As if not saying it would alleviate some of the guilt and the shame."The abortion happened "quickly," but it "broke me," Richards-Ross wrote. The day after the abortion, she flew to Beijing for the 2008 Olympics.
The abortion was a decision "from which I would not immediately heal," she said. It "would now forever be a part of my life. A scarlet letter I never thought I’d wear. I was a champion — and not just an ordinary one, but a world-class, record-breaking champion. From the heights of that reality I fell into a depth of despair."
At the Beijing Olympics, Richards-Ross won a bronze medal in the 400-meter race. She and her team won a gold medal in the 4x400-meter relay. (She had won a gold medal in Athens in 2004 and went on to win two more golds at the London Games in 2012.)
"Sanya Richards-Ross' testimony reveals what many of us already knew – that abortion is a significant problem in the athletic community and that few are educated on the life-affirming options and resources available to support pregnant athletes," Beth Rahal, Students for Life of America's Pregnant on Campus Director and a former college cross country and track athlete, told LifeSiteNews. Rahal said she has helped several student athletes over the years.
Pregnant, need help or know someone who does?
National Hotline: Call 1-800-712-HELP or Text 'HELPLINE' to 313131.
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If you or someone you know is suffering after abortion, confidential non-judgmental help is available. Call Project Rachel's national toll-free number 888-456-HOPE (4673) or visit hopeafterabortion.org.