Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh tells team members he would help raise their baby in event of unplanned pregnancy 

Jim Harbaugh University of Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh at his introductory press conference on Dec. 30, 2014. | Eric Upchurch, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

After receiving criticism on social media and from college football fans for remarks made at a pro-life event, Michigan Wolverines’ football coach Jim Harbaugh elaborated on his stance. 

In an interview with ESPN, Harbaugh shared how he has told his family, players, and staff members that if they found themselves in an unplanned pregnancy and could not take care of the baby then he and his wife would raise the child. 

"I've told [them] the same thing I tell my kids, boys, the girls, same thing I tell our players, our staff members. I encourage them if they have a pregnancy that wasn't planned, to go through with it, go through with it," Harbaugh said. "Let that unborn child be born and if at that time, you don't feel like you can care for it, you don't have the means or the wherewithal, then Sarah and I will take that baby." 

He added, "Any player on our team, any female staff member or any staff member or anybody in our family or our extended family that doesn't feel like after they have a baby they can take care of it, we got a big house. We'll raise that baby."

Harbaugh was a keynote speaker at the Plymouth Right to Life dinner and auction on July 17, 15 miles down the road from the University of Michigan, where Harbaugh played college football, and has been head coach since 2015. He gave a powerful speech in defense of the unborn, which triggered a reaction on social media. 

The theme of the evening was “We Were Made to be Courageous.” Harbaugh talked about the courage needed in today’s society for individuals to be able to stand up for their convictions.

“I believe in having the courage to let the unborn be born,” he said, according to the Detroit Catholic. “I love life. I believe in having a loving care and respect for life and death. My faith and my science are what drive these beliefs in me. Quoting from Jeremiah, ‘Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you. Before you were born, I set you apart. I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.'”

Raised Catholic, Harbaugh spoke about how his convictions were instilled in him from a young age by his parents. He now passes these values onto his own children, and puts them into practice in interactions with his football players and staff.  

Harbaugh recognized that not everyone agrees with his perspective on life, but added that it is important to express what you believe and why you believe it. 

“Passions can make the process messy, but when combined with respect, it ultimately produces the best outcomes,” Harbaugh said. “This process has been passionate and messy, but I have faith in the American people to ultimately develop the right policies and laws for all lives involved. I recognize one’s personal thinking regarding morality of a particular action may differ from their thinking on whether the government should make that action illegal. There are many things one may hold to be immoral, but the government appropriately allows because of some greater good or personal or constitutional right.”

“Ultimately, I don’t believe that is the case with abortion,” he added. “Yes, there are conflicts between the legitimate rights of the mother and the rights of the unborn child. One resolution might involve incredible hardship for the mother, family, and society. Another results in the death of an unborn person."

While neither outcome is good, Harbaugh said, the life of the unborn person must win out. He also noted the importance of supporting pro-life programs for mothers who are expecting and are in need of assistance. 

“In God’s plan, each unborn human truly has a future filled with potential, talent, dreams and love,” he said. “I have living proof in my family, my children, and the many thousands that I’ve coached that the unborn are amazing gifts from God to make this world a better place. To me, the right choice is to have the courage to let the unborn be born.”

His wife, Sarah Harbaugh, also shared her pro-life testimony during the event and how they promote their values as a married couple. 

“From an early age, my mom and dad would go to a Planned Parenthood and pray,” she said. “I feel my mom was a big influence for me, both my parents talked about protecting the unborn. I have friends, even family, who have considered abortion or had an abortion, and I know they are not better for it. If we had more support for women, more people who knew what really happens, we would be in a different place on this issue.”

The auction raised an estimated $44,000 for pro-life initiatives in the area. Donors also gave an estimated $100,000 in pledges for Plymouth Right to Life. 

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