The WNBA’s Seattle Storm has become the first team in professional sports to officially support Planned Parenthood, both politically and financially.
The Storm and its ownership group, Force 10 Hoops (made up of Seattle businesswomen and civic leaders), will be holding a rally to support Planned Parenthood on July 18, right before the team’s game against the Chicago Sky.
The Storm also plans on holding a silent auction that night and will donate $5 to Planned Parenthood for every ticket sold to the game.
According to Bleacher Report, the Storm has also pledged to take part in “fundraising efforts and active, ongoing support” for the group, which is facing a complete federal funding cut under President Trump’s budget proposal.
The Storm is also encouraging local businesses who want to support Planned Parenthood to buy tickets that can be donated to Seattle women and children’s groups.
This isn’t the first time that a WNBA team has gotten political, though previous forays have usually been started by players, not owners. Last season, the league fined three teams and their players for putting on special uniforms to protest police killings of black people. Two of the affected teams, the New York Liberty and the Indiana Fever, responded by refusing to answer any press question that wasn’t about Black Lives Matter.
Dawn Trudeau, one of the Storm’s co-owners, said in an interview with Think Progress that the team’s management were well aware of the political risks of such a partnership. They also made clear to the Storm’s players and coaching staff that they were “under no obligation to speak up about” Planned Parenthood, or the fight for women’s reproductive care.
But so far, Trudeau says, the players and coaching staff—comprised almost entirely of women—have shown “a lot of enthusiasm” about the initiative.
Trudeau explained why the team made the historic move in the follwing statement:
As individual Americans who are not legislators, merely citizens, we have felt hamstrung by our limited ability to make a meaningful impact in the national health care debate. Access to affordable, quality health care, including a full range of reproductive care, is a critical precondition for anyone – especially girls and women, to pursue their dreams and grow into their best selves.