Jim Harbaugh, the University of Michigan’s head football coach, professed his anti-abortion views at a fund-raising event this week, becoming certainly one of the primary distinguished sports figures to talk out against abortion since Roe v. Wade was overturned.
“I feel in having the courage to let the unborn be born,” Harbaugh said on the event, in accordance with Detroit Catholic, a news service for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit. “I really like life. I feel in having a loving care and respect for all times and death. My faith and my science are what drive these beliefs in me.”
Harbaugh and his wife, Sarah, were speaking at a Plymouth Right to Life event in Plymouth, Mich., on Sunday, in accordance with the organization’s website. A priest from the archdiocese delivered a keynote address titled “We Were Made to Be Courageous” before the Harbaughs gave what the group called “pro-life testimony.”
Harbaugh, who’s Catholic and quoted a Bible verse during his remarks, said he had faith within the American public to develop the fitting policies and laws regarding abortion.
“Yes, there are conflicts between the legitimate rights of the mother and the rights of the unborn child,” he said. “One resolution might involve incredible hardship for the mother, family and society. One other ends in the death of an unborn person.”
Read More on the End of Roe v. Wade
After the Supreme Court ended the constitutional right to abortion last month, several distinguished athletes, including the soccer star Megan Rapinoe, criticized the ruling. Until Harbaugh’s speech this week, few sports personalities had spoken publicly against abortion.
Harbaugh’s opinion runs counter to what the interim president of the University of Michigan, Mary Sue Coleman, said after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. The day of that ruling, she said, “I strongly support access to abortion services, and I’ll do every little thing in my power as president to make sure we proceed to supply this critically essential care.”
Abortion is currently legal in Michigan but is being contested within the courts, with a judge blocking the enforcement of a 1931 law that bans most abortions from taking effect. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, filed a lawsuit to stop the ban.
Harbaugh declined an interview through a spokesman for the University of Michigan’s football team. Rick Fitzgerald, a spokesman for the university, said: “Jim Harbaugh attended an event and shared his personal views as any citizen has the constitutional right to do. He was sharing his personal beliefs and never speaking on behalf of the university.”
As news of Harbaugh’s remarks spread, journalists and Michigan alumni discussed them online, sometimes heatedly.
Jemele Hill, a author for The Atlantic who used to work for ESPN and is from Detroit, criticized the views that Harbaugh presented. “This is likely to be a difficult concept for Jim Harbaugh” or “any anti-choice person to understand,” she wrote on Twitter, “but in the event you don’t want an abortion, just don’t get one. Not that tough.”
Clay Travis, who founded the sports and culture website Outkick, said it was not consistent for journalists to complain after Harbaugh presented his views.
“The identical sports media that at all times argues, ‘Hey, we wish everybody to share their political views — speak out as much as you wish,’ goes to completely rip Jim Harbaugh to shreds because he has a unique opinion than they do on abortion,” Travis said in a video posted on Twitter.
Harbaugh has coached at Michigan for seven seasons after turning across the football program at Stanford and leading the San Francisco 49ers to a Super Bowl appearance. He was a quarterback within the N.F.L. for 14 years before moving into the coaching ranks and has not been shy about voicing his opinions.
After George Floyd was murdered by a Minneapolis police officer, Harbaugh marched in a rally against police brutality held in Ann Arbor, Mich. He previously coached Colin Kaepernick, the 49ers quarterback who became the middle of a firestorm when he stopped standing for the national anthem to protest what Kaepernick called “a rustic that oppresses Black people and other people of color.” Harbaugh said then that he supported Kaepernick’s motivation but took exception to his approach to motion.
In accordance with Detroit Catholic, the priest on the anti-abortion event in Plymouth, the Rev. John Riccardo, said he hoped there have been people within the audience who supported abortion rights but had attended due to Harbaugh’s presence.
“I would like you to know that you simply are very welcome here,” said the priest, who graduated from Michigan. “We’re so glad that you simply got here and easily need to ask God to assist us see reality.”