Batters up for the pro-life cause

| March 06, 2003

What do the Missoula Osprey and a pro-life organization have in common? Beth Cogswell of Missoula Planned Parenthood doesn’t know, but in light of recent news, she’s curious to find out.

On Saturday, Feb. 22, the Arizona Republic broke a story about Arizona Diamondbacks CEO Jerry Colangelo’s connection to a pro-life organization. Colangelo and 90 other baseball executives and players have joined forces to raise $1 million for the American Life League, an organization that opposes abortion under any circumstance, including rape, incest and saving the life of the mother.

“It’s a particularly extreme position,” says Cogswell. “People that self-identify as being anti-choice usually make the exception that abortion is OK in those instances. For this group to say that they oppose abortion to save the life of the mother, that means that they believe the woman is second to her fetus.”

After learning of the story, Cogswell fired an e-mail to Mayor Mike Kadas and the members of Missoula City Council because of the “connection between the Missoula Osprey and the Diamondbacks.”

“Planned Parenthood doesn’t necessarily take a position against the Missoula Osprey and we’re not going to picket them,” she says chuckling. Then seriously: “I just think that it’s really important information to have, and especially because Missoula is a pretty liberal community.”

Osprey Vice President and General Manager Matt Ellis had also read the article and knew about Cogswell’s e-mail. A lot of confusion and misinformation could have been avoided if Cogswell had come to him first, Ellis says angrily. While many Missoulians may think that the Diamondbacks own or control the Osprey, that is not the case, he says.

In a written statement responding to what Ellis calls a “false implication that the Missoula Osprey are represented by the personal views of the Chairman of the Arizona Diamondbacks,” Ellis delineated the relationship between the two teams, explaining that the Osprey have a contractual agreement with the Diamondbacks to use players from the pro team’s organization. It goes on the say that the two organizations are separate companies, and that that Diamondbacks have no control, ownership or say in how the Osprey run their ball club.

“The Missoula Osprey should not be labeled or saddled as a sympathizer or supporter of any political opinions or actions taken by the Arizona Diamondbacks organization, their Chairman, or executives,” Ellis writes. “The Missoula Osprey is not a political organization and has no plans to enter that forum.”

Cogswell says that she had no intention of “stirring up a hornet’s nest” and is glad Ellis elucidated the teams’ relationship, but still thinks that Kadas, the council and the public should know about the information, adding that everyone should be aware that “this type of thing is creeping into something as innocuous as baseball.”

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