The ownership group of the WNBA’s Seattle Storm is writing its own playbook on how to engage with the community. On July 18, the team will hold its inaugural “Stand with Planned Parenthood” rally in KeyArena’s West Plaza. The event will cap off with $5 from each ticket sale that day to be donated to Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and Hawaiian Islands.
Dawn Trudeau, a co-owner of the team, is not sidestepping the apparent political message this partnership sends. “Obviously, we are progressives, so throughout this year we’ve had conversations about what was going on in the country, and what we might as individuals might do about it,” she commented in regard to discussions within the ownership group.
Planned Parenthood, which is a non-profit organization that provides reproductive health care to women across the country, has come under fire from conservative politicians who have looked to defund the organization. According to its website, one in five women in the country have visited at least one of Planned Parenthood’s estimated 650 centers. Planned Parenthood sees about 2.5 million men and women a year. Planned Parenthood provides education, Pap tests, breast exams, sexual health screenings and treatments and services to prevent pregnancy. About 3 percent of its services are for abortions. The organization relies heavily on federal funding.
According to the team, they did not analyze potential business ramifications before entering a partnership with Planned Parenthood.
“We just made the decision as an ownership group,” said Trudeau. “We were pretty confident that our fans would respond in a positive way, because we know the kind of people that we have coming to the arena, but we didn’t do any formal research.”
For a lot of players in the WNBA, a flagship women’s professional sports league, this decision really hits home. Many players have commented on how vital the services are that Planned Parenthood provides, with some even being beneficiaries themselves.
Yesterday Senate Republicans unveiled their plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. The “Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017” would defund Planned Parenthood.
Without once mentioning Planned Parenthood by name, the draft promises to eliminate any organization “that is primarily engaged in family planning services, reproductive health, and related medical care; and provides for abortions” (exceptions would be made, according to the bill, in cases of rape or incest or if the pregnancy poses a risk to the mother’s life), as well as if said organization received more than $350 million through Medicaid.
More than half of Planned Parenthood’s patients rely on Medicaid for essential services.
The Seattle Storm views this as an opportunity to expand its footprints to new potential clients and supporters. This is the first partnership with a professional sports franchise that Planned Parenthood has engaged in.
The Seattle Storm plans on continuing to raise awareness and help with fundraising for their local Planned Parenthood chapter after the July event as well. This call to action might spark other WNBA teams, as well as other professional sports franchises to fall in line, but this is not the ownership group’s intent. Trudeau commented that they were simply trying to do something for the local community, but sees it as a positive outcome if other organizations follow suit.
“We really weren’t doing it as something to encourage other teams to do it,” she said. “But if it does take off among other sports teams, it would be a wonderful thing.” Time will tell whether other franchises will engage in similar partnerships based off the Storm’s initiative.