NAACP urges pro athletes to avoid signing with Texas teams over abortion, voting laws

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The NAACP sent a letter to the players’ associations of five professional sports on Thursday urging them to “reconsider” signing with Texas teams because of recently passed measures on abortion, voting and COVID-19.

The letter, signed by NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson, mentions laws passed by Texas’ Republican-led legislature on abortion and voting rights, as well as moves by Gov. Greg Abbott’s administration to go after mask mandates as reasons to shy away from teams in the state. The letter was sent to the players’ associations in the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL and WNBA. 

“Over the past few months, legislators in Texas have passed archaic policies, disguised as laws, that directly violate privacy rights and a woman’s freedom to choose, restrict access to free and fair elections for Black and brown voters, and increase the risk of contracting coronavirus,” the letter says. “If you are a woman, avoid Texas. If you are Black, avoid Texas. If you want to lower your chances of dying from coronavirus, avoid Texas.”

Last month, an abortion law went into effect barring most abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected at six weeks gestation. The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear a challenge to the law by the federal government on Monday.

In September, Mr. Abbott signed a bill that changed the state’s voting laws, and earlier this month, he signed a new congressional map into law and his administration has been suing school districts that require students to wear masks.

“If you are considering signing in Texas, I ask you to ensure that owners are upholding their responsibility of protecting you, the athlete and your family,” the letter reads. “I ask you to use your influence to help protect the constitutional rights of each individual at risk.”

Among the five leagues whose players’ associations receive the letter, nine teams are in Texas: the Houston Texans and Dallas Cowboys in the NFL; the Dallas Mavericks and San Antonio Spurs in the NBA; the Houston Astros and Texas Rangers in MLB; the Dallas Stars in the NHL; and the Dallas Wings in the WNBA.

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