“In God’s plan, every unborn human being truly has a future full of potential, talent, dreams and love,” Harbaugh said, according to Detroit Catholic, the news service of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit. “I have living proof in my family, my children and the many thousands I have coached that the unborn are amazing gifts from God to make this world a better place. For me, the right decision is having the courage to let the unborn be born.”
Harbaugh, a long-time anti-abortion Catholic, was assisted by his wife Sarah and Rev. John Riccardo of Our Lady of Good Counsel in Plymouth to raise money for several anti-abortion charities in southeastern Michigan. Harbaugh, whose Michigan program is having its best year since arriving in Ann Arbor and playing its first college football playoff last season, said the beliefs he holds against abortion were shaped by his parents. He said his views helped shape relationships with his children, players and staff.
“I love life. I believe in a loving care and respect for life and death,” Harbaugh said, according to the Detroit Catholic. “It’s my faith and my science that drive 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 fell roe on June 24 – a move that prompted 13 states to initiate “trigger bans” that were once set to go into effect roe was crushed and outlawed abortions within 30 days of the verdict. Michigan is one of several states that are unenforcedroe Abortion bans, which are now likely to become a target in deciding whether access remains legal.
A women’s clinic run by two generations of braces for the post-Roe era
Abortion is still legal in Michigan because a state judge in May issued an injunction against a 1931 law allowing the procedure only when “it is necessary to preserve such a woman’s life.” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Attorney General Dana Nessel, both Democrats, have said they would not enforce the ban.
Michigan soccer program spokesman David Ursprung told the Washington Post that Harbaugh merely shares his personal views, although his opinions do not speak for the University of Michigan.
“Jim Harbaugh attended an event and shared his personal views on how every citizen has the constitutional right to do so,” Run said in a statement. “He shared his personal beliefs and did not speak on behalf of the university.”
Rick Fitzgerald, a spokesman for the university, agreed that Harbaugh’s personal beliefs do not speak for the school. Fitzgerald told The Post in an email that the University of Michigan’s position on abortion services remains “clear,” citing a statement made after the Supreme Court ruling Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization: “The University of Michigan and Michigan Medicine remain committed to providing patients with quality and safe reproductive care for all of their reproductive health needs.”
Harbaugh’s comments were met with backlash from critics on Tuesday, including FS1’s Joy Taylor, who pointed to the trainer’s reference to “courage”.
“So women who have abortions are cowards?” she asked.
“For me, the right decision is to have the courage to let the unborn be born” – says Man, Jim Harbaugh. “Courage.” So women who have abortions are cowards? https://t.co/RoROLyE2Vw
— Joy Taylor (@JoyTaylorTalks) July 19, 2022
Harbaugh has not been shy about speaking out on a range of issues and social issues. After initially saying he didn’t respect “the motivation or action” of Colin Kaepernick during his protest at police brutality against black people, he later hailed the quarterback as “a hero” and even hosted a pitching show for Kaepernick at the spring game in Michigan in April.
Harbaugh later spoke out against the 2020 killing of George Floyd and denounced the officer who knelt on the black man’s neck, sparking nationwide protests. The trainer even attended a protest in Ann Arbor days after Floyd’s death.
When it comes to abortion, Harbaugh has been consistently in his opposition. In an April 2020 podcast published by National Review, Harbaugh called abortions “terrible.”
The coach reiterated his stance on Sunday, noting that while a mother’s rights and a fetus’s rights may conflict, Harbaugh believes the choice should favor those of the fetus. He thought again about how the last few weeks had been in his eyes.
“Passions can make the process messy, but when combined with respect, it ultimately yields the best results,” Harbaugh said, according to the Detroit Catholic. “This process has been passionate and messy, but I have faith that the American people will ultimately develop the right policies and laws for all lives involved. I recognize that personal opinions as to the morality of a particular act may differ from your opinion as to whether the government should make that act illegal. There are many things that can be considered immoral, but the government allows them because of some greater good or personal or constitutional right.”
During her presentation at the event, Sarah Harbaugh acknowledged that the couple’s attitude could affect recruitment. However, the family stressed that they are speaking out “for the right reasons.”
“During halftime of a game, when I’m talking to the players, I say they’re here because they made a choice to be here,” Jim Harbaugh said, according to local media. “When someone believes in what they stand for, they choose to stand up for that position, and what kind of person are you if you don’t fight tooth and nail for what you stand for? You can change hearts by fighting for what you stand for.”
Jemele Hill, a writer for The Atlantic, was among those who questioned Harbaugh’s motivation and approach to an issue that remains raw to millions of Americans.
“This might be a difficult concept for Jim Harbaugh for any anti-choice person to grasp … but if you don’t want an abortion, just don’t do it,” she said tweeted. “Not that hard.”
According to the Detroit Catholic Plymouth Right to Life, donors reportedly made pledges of an estimated $100,000. Among those donations was a pledge of $2,300 to enable a donor to snag a pass in the Harbaugh ballroom.
Kim Bellware contributed to this report.