A professional basketball team in Seattle stepped into the abortion debate this week when it pledged thousands of dollars to Planned Parenthood.
The WNBA’s Seattle Storm recently became the first professional sports team to publicly support the controversial organization, which is at risk of losing federal funding. The team said it would donate $5 of every ticket sold to Planned Parenthood for Tuesday’s game. There were 8,358 people who attended the game and that amounted to a $42,000 donation, according to the Seattle Times.
In the liberal city of Seattle, the team has found strong support. Hundreds of people showed up at Tuesday’s game holding pink “I Stand with Planned Parenthood” signs.
But critics cried foul that the team would take such a political stance. A handful of anti-abortion protesters showed up at the game and some abortion opponents slammed the team on social media.
Tom Herring of Port Orchard, a founder and director of the Anti-Choice Project, was one of the people protesting the team’s partnership. He told the Seattle Times he attended the event to “expose the injustice of abortion with the pictures of abortion victims” to “educate people that this is what abortion does to a baby.”
But the team’s co-owner said she was proud of the partnership.
“I personally got my first birth control with Planned Parenthood. I think it’s a tremendous asset for women and girls and actually men, too, for some types of services,” Dawn Trudeau, Seattle Storm co-owner, told USAToday. “So we all felt strongly that this was something we could do, we’re willing to do … and it was something we could do locally when we felt a bit impotent of what we could do nationally.”
According to its website, Planned Parenthood has provided 4.9 million men, women and young people worldwide with “sexual and reproductive health care, education and outreach” in a single year.
Christine Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands, called the partnership "historic."
"A women-owned sports team with stellar athletes, supporting a women’s health care organization brings tears to my eyes," she said. "It’s powerful. Right now, we are seeing a relentless effort to roll back progress for women.”
WNBA President Lisa Borders said she was proud of the team.
“What we need to really understand is that women need to have access to affordable, safe and comprehensive health care,” Borders said to USAToday. “The absence of an option like Planned Parenthood jeopardizes women’s lives and their families’ lives and thereby weakens the community.
Four Storm players — Sue Bird, Breanna Stewart, Noelle Quinn and Sami Whitcomb — were also featured in a PSA supporting Planned Parenthood that the team released last week.