In an interview with ESPN, Michigan Wolverines football coach Jim Harbaugh doubled down on anti-abortion remarks he made earlier this month, where he claimed he’d raise the child of anyone in his family or program who had an unwanted pregnancy.
Harbaugh told the outlet that he had encouraged people on his staff and team, along with his relatives, to follow through with an unplanned pregnancy even if they feel they don’t have the “means or the wherewithal.”
“I’ve told [them] the same thing I tell my kids, boys, the girls, same thing I tell our players, our staff members,” he told ESPN.
“I encourage them if they have a pregnancy that wasn’t planned, to go through with it, go through with it,” Harbaugh continued. “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 [Harbaugh’s wife] Sarah and I will take that baby.”
The 58-year-old’s comments come after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which granted women the right to an abortion in every state, in June.
Harbaugh then appeared as a keynote speaker at the Plymouth Right to Life event on July 17, where he said he believed in “having the courage to let the unborn be born.”
“I love life,” he said during the event, according to the Detroit Catholic. “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,” he continued before referencing a passage from the Bible. “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.'”
When reached by PEOPLE in regards to Harbaugh’s comments, a University of Michigan representative said the coach was sharing his “personal views as any citizen has the constitutional right to do.”
“He was sharing his personal beliefs and not speaking on behalf of the university,” they added.
The University of Michigan, meanwhile, has taken steps to ensure abortion access for patients at Michigan Medicine. In a joint statement on their website, they said they were committed to “providing high quality, safe reproductive care for patients, across all their reproductive health needs.”
“This includes abortion care, which remains legal in Michigan, even following today’s U.S. Supreme Court opinion,” the statement said. “While the state of Michigan has a 1931 abortion ban on the books, a recent Michigan Court of Claims order has temporarily blocked enforcement of that ban. Michigan Medicine will continue to offer abortion care for patients needing hospital-level care.”
While speaking with ESPN, Harbaugh — who has coached the Wolverines since 2015 — said he thinks the issue of abortion needs “serious conversation.”
“It’s a life-or-death type of issue,” he said. “And I believe in, and I respect, people’s views. But let’s hear them. Let’s discuss them because there’s passion on both sides of this issue. So when you combine that with respect, that’s when the best results come. … [I’m] just contributing to that conversation and that communication, which I think is really important, in my opinion.”
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In past comments to ESPN, Harbaugh called abortion the “most horrendous thing I could possibly conceive.”
According to the Center for American Progress, a nonpartisan policy institute, more than half of U.S. states have banned or are expected to ban abortion. The moves would affect 34 million women of reproductive age. The other 21 states and Washington D.C. currently offer protections for abortion.
Surveys from Pew Research, including one from June 2022, have found that the majority of Americans — 61% — support the right to abortion.