N.F.L. quarterback Tim Tebow is in the middle of a fierce culture wars controvesy because he agreed to let his life story be the centerpiece of a Super Bowl ad created by Focus on the Family, the evangelical group founded by James Dobson. has bought air time during the Super Bowl. The ad features Tebow and his mother relating how she rejected the advice of doctors when urged her to have an abortion. She had the baby, and he grew up to be a football star. A touchdown for the anti-abortion team.
Some women’s groups, including the National Organization for Women, are petitioning CBS not to air the ad during next month’s Super Bowl, always one of the most-watched television events of the year. CBS has rejected issue-oriented ads in the past, but says that it changed its policy. In a letter to CBS, The Women’s Media Center and over thirty other pro-abortion and women’s advocacy groups urged the network “to immediately cancel this ad and refuse any other advertisement promoting Focus on the Family’s agenda.”
“We are calling on CBS to stick to their policy of not airing controversial advocacy ads … and this is clearly a controversial ad,” Jehmu Greene, the president of the Women’s Media Center, told Reuters.
Nobody has seen the Tebow ad but CBS and Focus on the Family, but the complaints of the womens’ groups are difficult to justify if, as CBS has represented, the ad makes no explicit policy or ideological declaration. Tebow himself is an outspoken Christian, but he will not be advocating a religious position in the spot.
What’s going on here? If the story is told in an honest and straightforward fashion, it is sure to encourage thought and discussion regarding the ethics of abortion, and that can only be a good thing. It seems harsh to say so, but the only reason to object to the ad is the desire of pro-abortion advocates to treat the issue as settled and closed to further debate. Roe v.Wade says abortion is a Constitutional right, and that’s that. However, the court decision did not and cannot settle the ethical issue, which every responsible woman who makes a choice regarding abortion has an obligation to consider carefully. Is there something sinister about reminding women that today’s unwanted fetus might be tomorrow’s football hero if given the chance to live? I would have to wonder about the values of anyone who thought so. A decision to abort should not be regarded as a triumph for that “side”: Tim Tebow’s story should be as inspiring and gratifying to a pro-choice advocate as it is to anyone else.
“It (the ad) uses one family’s story to dictate morality to the American public, and encourages young women to disregard medical advice, putting their lives at risk,” says the letter sent to CBS. If the ad is as it has been described, then this is nonsense. Raising an argument for not having an abortion just because a doctor recommends it is not “dictating” anything, nor is the issue only a moral one. This is the prize cheap shot when anyone suggests that particular conduct may be wrong:”How dare you dictate your morality to anyone else?” We live in a society, and societies have an obligation to think about, and often to make rules about what is right. This requires speaking up and listening to what other people think. It is necessary and responsible conduct, not “dictating morality.”
The weakest argument against the ad might this howler, which Jehmu Greene came up with in her statement to the news media:
“An ad that uses sports to divide rather than to unite has no place in the biggest national sports event of the year — an event designed to bring Americans together.”
Oh, brother. How dare CBS interrupt a parade of dancing chimps, animated beer bottles and Cedric the Entertainer with something thought-provoking and substantive!
Forgive me for collapsing in derisive laughter, but honestly: living rooms full of drunken fans, screaming for their team to pulverize the bones and bruise the brains of the opposing team’s players, are such hallowed spaces that it is wrong to momentarily invade them with the story of how one mother is glad she didn’t abort her son? Since when were American women so solicitous of the purity of sports rituals? Anything that sparks a single brain cell to spark anywhere in America during a Super Bowl is progress.
Pro-abortion advocates are worried, I believe, that a simple, unvarnished telling of an inspiring and true story involving a football celebrity might cause some impressionable boys and girls watching the Super Bowl with their parents to think about the ethics of abortion. Perhaps the groups should be worried. Trying to prevent the story from being told, however, is neither honorable, fair, or American. What is American is encouraging an open, vigorous debate about important issues, and there is no issue more important than abortion and its results, positive and negative, for women, the unborn, and the American culture. Yes, the Super Bowl brings Americans together, and it should bring them together to do what Americans do best: party, eat, drink, cheer, care and argue.
The critics are wrong: Tim Tebow, Focus on Family and CBS have made Super Sunday better than ever.