Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh speaks at an anti-abortion event, ‘Have the Courage to Let the Unborn’

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University of Michigan football head coach Jim Harbaugh spoke out in favor of the anti-abortion movement over the weekend, telling attendees at a charity dinner that pregnancies should be carried out at term and that people should “have the courage to let the unborn child be born”.

Speaking at a fundraiser hosted by Plymouth Right to Life, an anti-abortion organization in Plymouth, Michigan, Harbaugh, one of college football’s most recognizable personalities, took to the stage on Sunday as keynote speaker to reiterate his opposition to abortion in the weeks that followed. the Supreme Court struck down Roe vs. Wade.

“In God’s plan, every unborn human truly has a future filled with potential, talent, dreams and love,” Harbaugh said, according to the Detroit Catholic, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese’s news service. from Detroit. “I have living proof in my family, my children and the thousands of people I have trained that unborn children are incredible gifts from God to make this world a better place. For me, the right choice is to have the courage to let the unborn child be born.

Harbaugh, a Catholic who has long opposed abortion, was joined by his wife, Sarah, and the Reverend John Riccardo of Our Lady of Good Counsel in Plymouth to help raise money for several anti-abortion charities in southeast Michigan. Harbaugh, whose Michigan program is coming off its best year since arriving in Ann Arbor and made its first college football playoffs last season, said her beliefs against abortion were shaped by her parents. He said his views have helped inform the relationships he has with his children, players and staff.

“I love life. I believe in having loving care and respect for life and death,” Harbaugh said, according to the Detroit Catholic. “My faith and my science are what drives those beliefs in me.”

Harbaugh is among the first major coaches or athletes to speak out in support of the anti-abortion movement since the Supreme Court overturned deer on June 24 – a decision that caused 13 states to launch “trigger bans” designed to take effect once deer was overturned, banning abortions within 30 days of the decision. Michigan is one of many states that have pre-deer abortion bans which will now likely become a target to determine whether access remains legal.

A women’s clinic run by two generations of women fitted for the post-Roe era

Abortions are still legal in Michigan due to a state judge’s injunction in May against a 1931 law that only allows the procedure when it is “necessary to preserve such a woman’s life.” “. Governor Gretchen Whitmer and State Attorney General Dana Nessel, both Democrats, said they would not enforce the ban.

David Ablauf, spokesman for Michigan’s football program, told The Washington Post that Harbaugh was simply sharing his personal opinions, even if his opinions don’t speak for the University of Michigan.

“Jim Harbaugh attended an event and shared his personal views as every citizen has a constitutional right to do,” Ablauf said in a statement. “He shared his personal beliefs and did not speak on behalf of the university.”

Rick Fitzgerald, a university spokesman, agreed that Harbaugh’s personal beliefs don’t speak for the school. Fitzgerald told the Post in an email that the University of Michigan’s position on abortion services remains “clear” and pointed to a statement released after the Supreme Court ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization: “The University of Michigan and Michigan Medicine remain committed to providing safe, high-quality reproductive health care to patients for all of their reproductive health needs.”

Harbaugh’s comments drew backlash from critics on Tuesday, including FS1’s Joy Taylor, who pointed to the coach’s reference to “courage”.

“So women who have abortions are cowards?” she asked.

Harbaugh hasn’t been afraid to share his opinion on a range of topics and social issues. After initially saying he ‘didn’t respect the motivation or action’ of Colin Kaepernick during his protest against police brutality against black people, he later hailed the quarterback as ‘a hero’ and even organized a throwing exhibition for Kaepernick at Michigan’s spring game. in April.

Harbaugh went on to speak out against the 2020 killing of George Floyd, denouncing the police officer who knelt on the black man’s neck and sparked nationwide protests. The coach even took part in a protest in Ann Arbor days after Floyd’s death.

When it comes to abortion, Harbaugh has been consistent in his opposition. In an April 2020 podcast published by the National Review, Harbaugh called the abortions “horrible.”

The coach repeated his position on Sunday, noting that while the rights of a mother and the rights of a fetus may conflict, Harbaugh believes the choice should favor that of the fetus. He reflected again on what the last few weeks have been for him.

“Passions can make the process messy, but when combined with respect, they ultimately produce the best results,” Harbaugh said, according to the Detroit Catholic. “This process has been heated and messy, but I have faith in the American people to ultimately develop the right policies and laws for all lives involved. I recognize that a person’s personal thinking about the morality of a particular action may differ from their thinking about whether the government should make that action illegal. There are many things that can be considered immoral, but the government appropriately authorizes because of a higher good or a personal or constitutional right.

During her speech at the event, Sarah Harbaugh acknowledged that the couple’s position could have an impact on recruitment. But the family stressed that they were speaking out “for the right reasons”.

“During halftime of a game, talking with the players, I say they’re here because they chose to be here,” Jim Harbaugh said, according to local media. “If someone believes in what they stand for, they choose to stand for that position, and what kind of person are you if you don’t fight tooth and nail for what you stand for? You get to change hearts by fighting for what you stand for.

Jemele Hill, a contributing writer for The Atlantic, was among those who questioned Harbaugh’s motivation and approach to an issue that remains raw for millions of Americans.

“That might be a difficult concept for Jim Harbaugh of any anti-choice person to grasp…but if you don’t want an abortion, don’t,” she said. tweeted. “Not so difficult.”

Donors reportedly gave about $100,000 in pledges to Plymouth Right to Life, according to the Detroit Catholic. Among those donations was a pledge of $2,300 so a donor could nab a pass into Harbaugh’s ballroom.

Kim Bellware contributed to this report.

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