Football Player to Feature in Anti-choice Super Bowl Ad

Jodi Jacobson

A Focus on the Family ad featuring Tim Tebow is another effort to use male athletes to limit women's choices. There are far better ways for Focus on the Family to use $2.5 million dollars...

Using the same "what-if-you-abort-a-future president" meme deployed during the 2008 Presidential campaign, Focus on the Family is purchasing time to air an ad during the Superbowl featuring Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow and his mother Pam.    

According to the Huffington Post, the Tebows will share a personal story
centering on the theme "Celebrate Family, Celebrate Life."

The
group isn’t releasing details, but the commercial is likely to be an
anti-abortion message chronicling Pam Tebow’s 1987 pregnancy. After
getting sick during a mission trip to the Philippines, she ignored a
recommendation by doctors to abort her fifth child and gave birth to
Tim.

Jim Daly, president and CEO of Focus on the Family, said the commercial comes at a time when "families need to be inspired." 

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"Tim and Pam share our respect for life and our passion for helping
families thrive," Daly said. "Focus on the Family is about …
strengthening families by empowering them with the tools they need to
live lives rooted in morals and values."

Thirty-second commercials during the Super Bowl are selling for
between $2.5 million and $2.8 million. Daly said all the funds for the
ad came from a handful of "very generous and committed friends," and
that no money from the group’s general fund was used. 

Tebow, the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner, ended his college career this month with several
NCAA, Southeastern Conference and school records, and two national
championships.

He will enter the NFL draft in April.

Tebow has been very involved in his family’s
Christian-based ministry and regularly includes references to Bible passages in his eye black.

During the SEC Championship game, he guided viewers to John 16:33. The week before, in his last home game as a Florida Gator, his eye blacks referenced Hebrews 12:1-2. Tonight, Tebow is playing the final game of his college career in the Sugar Bowl, and he has included one final message beneath his eyes..

What’s wrong with this picture?

It is nothing new for the anti-choice movement to profile or promote athletes in their efforts to limit women’s choices, ranging from football to baseball to basketball. 

But the effort fails the smell test on several levels.  For one thing, Pam Tebow freely made a choice that fit with her own conscience, faith, and calculations of risk, and that is to be celebrated.  It is not a cause for taking away the choices of other women.  The issue is the right of each woman to choose what is best for her and her own family, not to force the choices of Pam Tebow or anyone else on the entire population of women for all time.  

For another we are constantly and increasingly seeing men, men, men (think Stupak, Nelson, the Catholic Bishops, Scott Brown and others) leading the charge to limit women’s choices, not only to abortion, but to birth control.

I like a good competitive sports game as much as anyone else.  However, I find it dangerously ironic that football players, participants in the most aggressively male-centered and violent contact sport in the United States and constantly surrounded by cheerleaders whose job it is to dance and look pretty for the men, feel compelled to tell women what to believe and how to act.  Or is that just an extension of the patriarchal nature of the sport itself?

Finally, if Focus on the Family is so concerned with "inspiring and celebrating the family," then maybe it ought to advertise directly to the anti-choice community urging them to put their political efforts where their mouths are.  The so-called pro-life movement consistently and vociferously works against policies and programs that would support pregnant women and children in need.  For example, as Cristina Page wrote on Rewire:

In 2007, The Children’s Defense Fund published its Congressional
Scorecard
on the best and worst legislators for children. The
organization scored congressmembers votes on many of the policies that help pregnant women decide whether to parent or abort. The votes were on Head Start, increasing the minimum wage, reauthorizing and increasing funding for S-CHIP, increasing funding for children with disabilities, job training, Medicaid funding, helping youth pay for college, and tax-relief for low-income families with children. Based on their votes on these issues, the Children’s Defense Fund ranked 143 congressmembers as ‘the worst” for children. Of the 143 worst
legislators, 100% are pro-life.

I challenge Focus on the Family to a different strategy:

Spend your Super Bowl ad money launching a campaign addressing violence against women, particularly by intimate partners, which, it so happens, rises during pregnancy.  Focus your funding on violence against women by athletes, and the culture of rape. Focus your funding on increasing access to and information on contraceptive methods that can assist all individuals in avoiding unintended pregnancies in the first place.  Focus your money on having athletes call for more compassionate policies addressing the needs of low-income families struggling to survive in this recession.

Or is that too much "fantasy" for football and Focus on the Family to handle?

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