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Anti-Abortion Super Bowl Ad

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Tebow, with inexplicable Bible verse on face during football game.

Another indication of a slow news day, I guess. The Washington Post is reporting on the outrage that an ad, set to air during the Super Bowl, is creating. The ad is sponsored by the conservative Christan group Focus on the Family and presents the story of Tim Tebow and his mother, Pam. Apparently Pam went on a mission trip to the Philippines and became very ill while pregnant with Tim. Wikipedia outlines what happened on Tim Tebow’s page. Here is the relevant portion:

While pregnant Pam suffered a life-threatening infection with a pathogenic amoeba. Because of the drugs used to rouse her from a coma and to treat her dysentery, the fetus experienced a severe placental abruption. Doctors expected a stillbirth and recommended an abortion to protect her life. She carried Timothy to term, and both survived.

This seems like a fairly tame effort on the part of pro-life/anti-abortion advocates compared to some of their other attempts to get their message out (note: I specifically didn’t go find the most horrendous or gruesome ad out there).

What I find news worthy about the event are the arguments against airing the ad. In my mind, people can air what they want to air and if people want to pay $3 Million to say something to viewers, well that’s America. I don’t see how this could in any way be worse than ads that are routinely aired during political campaigns (see swift boat, 2004). At least this is telling a factual account of an event.

Here are some of the arguments against the airing of said commercial:

  • “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” – Jehmu Greene, president of the New York-based Women’s Media Center
  • “If you’re a sports fan, and I am, that’s the holiest day of the year. It’s not a day to discuss abortion. For it, against it, I don’t care what you are. On Super Sunday, I don’t care what I am. Feb. 7 is simply not the day to have that discussion.” – Greg Doyle, CBSSports Columnist
  • Terry O’Neill, the president of the National Organization for Women, condemned the planned ad as “extraordinarily offensive and demeaning.”
  • “That’s not being respectful of other people’s lives. It is offensive to hold one way out as being a superior way over everybody else’s” – Terry O’Neill

Really? For the first two, I really have to say that the Super Bowl does not “bring America together” unless you mean many of them are watching the same show and wishing death on supporters of the other team. And to think that the Super Bowl is somehow a sacrosanct event that other, less important, issues shouldn’t infringe on is just ridiculous. So I can say “Buy beer and be hot” but not “My mom didn’t abort me, and I am happy about it”? Silly.

I also fail to see how the ad is “offensive and demeaning” to women (I’ve been told that, being a guy, I could never understand). I guess that is point of her second quote, but isn’t it fairly common to hold the way you do something as superior to the way everyone else does? Isn’t that why we can have recycled debates here about any hot button issue? And doesn’t NOW think that their way is superior to all those anti-abortionists’ way? Perhaps in context these quotes make more sense.

There is a valid discussion about the costs and benefits of abortion out there, but I really think these arguments are utterly ridiculous. Let CBS run their business and go grab a bite to eat during the ad.

Please, no free speech posts. CBS is not the government so they have no obligation to protect free speech

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I am amused once again how they feel they’re totally justified in putting out a public advertisement of their own beliefs – but can get completely riled up at such things as the Atheist Bus.

To summarize one of my favorite 2nd Grade comebacks – “it’s a free country, I can do what I want.”

I agree, if they want to spend the money to put an ad out, fine. Maybe pro-choice groups could put out an ad about how even if there were no restrictions on abortion, Tim Tebow would still have been born in all his glory because pro-choice is not pro-abortion. And then maybe give real-life examples of mom’s who have died because they carried babies to term. I think pro-life crowds often assume pro-choice crowds want babies to be aborted. At the same time, I don’t see what is that offensive about the Tebow ad. Isn’t it a success story? Although, they could throw in a disclaimer stating that while this is cool, most moms who keep babies that could threaten their own lives don’t end up with Heisman trophy winning quarterbacks.

Whatever your stance, people can say what they want.

3 Votes  - +
A clarification by scottb

I also fail to see how the ad is “offensive and demeaning” to women (I’ve been told that, being a guy, I could never understand).

It’s simple to understand. NOW’s position is that the anti-abortion stance, in general, is offensive and demeaning to women, as it holds that women have no right to make their own decisions in the matter.

Please, no free speech posts. CBS is not the government so they have no obligation to protect free speech

Sorry, but that’s just false. The government grants CBS the right to broadcast on a part of the radio spectrum controlled by the FCC. That does put some obligations on them, including some with respect to protecting freedom of speech.

From 1949 to 1987, the FCC had a policy known as the “Fairness Doctrine” that required license holders to present “controversial issues of public importance” and to do it in a manner that was “honest, equitable, and balanced”. The Supreme Court upheld their right to do so. As the court also ruled that they have no obligation to do so, they decided that the rule was no longer needed because of the wider range of channels available. Nevertheless, the broadcasters clearly had obligations to protect free speech.

The “Equal Time” rule for political candidates is a similar obligation.

I generally agree with you that the arguments you’ve quoted aren’t good ones. Neither are the arguments made in the ad—I’m sure we could find an example of a historical tyrant with a similar anecdote.

0 Votes  - +
Scott M. by Anonymous

You say it’s a true ad or at least the story it tells is true. Although it may be true, that’s now in doubt.

Seems it’s illegal to get an abortion in the Philippines under all circumstances. It’s illegal for doctors to do them and it’s illegal for women to have them. You can’t get one for rape, incest, OR the health of the mother.

So, why would the doctor suggest Mrs. Tebow do something illegal?

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