Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade last summer, National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) officials announced that reproductive rights would factor into future expansion teams. Now, a year later, the Utah Royals women’s soccer team is set to return, pledging to assist in covering the expenses of out-of-state abortion care for all club employees.
Utah has seen a series of restrictive abortion laws passed in recent years aimed at protecting the unborn and upholding the sanctity of life. These laws effectively ban abortion clinics, make abortions of babies with Down Syndrome illegal, prohibit abortions after 18 weeks of pregnancy, and require only doctors to perform abortions. However, the Royals remain resolute in providing women the option to terminate their children.
In response to these restrictive abortion laws, the Royals have introduced a policy providing financial assistance to employees seeking out-of-state abortion care.
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The controversial policy covers both Royals and Real Salt Lake, both of which are owned by Utah Soccer LLC. “For all employees enrolled in our benefits plan, we have had a policy in place where if there is a medical procedure that is not provided in the state of Utah, we will provide a reimbursement of up to $4,000 toward travel and lodging costs,” a club spokesman said.
NWSL Commissioner Jessica Berman has voiced her support for the policy, stating that the league’s responsibility is to provide players with tools and resources to meet their medical needs, even if that means leaving their local market.
“It’s something that we look at not only for expansion teams but for our incumbent teams. And we have various markets where women’s health and medical rights and resources are compromised and limited that it’s our responsibility at the league office to the extent permitted by law to provide tools and resources for our players to have their medical needs met,” Berman said Saturday.
She continued, “We have those safety nets and systems in place through the league office where players can have their medical needs addressed even if they have to leave the market, and we are here to support them to the extent that’s necessary. And we know that the ownership group here is aligned to ensure that that’s the case.”
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On the other hand, pro-life advocates are voicing concerns about the team’s decision to finance abortions, asserting that it goes against the values and beliefs of many Utah residents whom the team claims to represent.
Utah local Casey expressed disappointment in owner Ryan Smith’s decision, tweeting, “#Utah is overwhelmingly #LDS, and overwhelmingly #ProLife. Yet, @utahjazz owner Ryan Smith is paying for his employees’ abortions?”
John Matrixx, during his sports show, Black & White Sports, also commented on the announcement, stating, “The vast majority of these women that are actually aborting their kids are not married. They don’t have a committed relationship with a man. That’s the problem, man. We need to get back on track, promoting family values.”
Matrix added, “This is the same Utah Royals team that actually shut down, they went full BLM, just like the Marxist NBA of China. This is the kind of league that they have. They have a super woke league, and this is why they’re supporting genocide. They’re going to fund it.”
Despite these concerns, the NWSL and the Royals’ ownership group, which includes Utah Jazz owner and Qualtrics co-founder Ryan Smith, remain committed to the policy. They argue that ensuring the health and well-being of their employees is their top priority.
“It’s important across all of our organizations that that medical benefit was available,” Ryan Smith told the Salt Lake Tribune.
As the Utah Royals prepare to bring professional women’s soccer back to the state for the first time since 2020, the controversy surrounding their abortion policy will continue. Pro-life advocates hope that the team will reconsider their stance and instead support alternatives, such as adoption or resources for pregnant women, which align more closely with the values of many Utah residents.
Should the Royals assist in covering the expenses of out-of-state abortion care? Let us know in the comments.
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