Yes, I’m doing it again. I’m talking about that Focus on the Family commercial in another roundup. I can’t resist. So many people have such good points to make.
Of course you all know about writers like our own wonderful Amanda Marcotte who are aptly pointing that the FOF add is actually celebrating choice rather than arguing against it.
So today, a small roundup of men’s reaction to the ad.
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Did you catch that? Ms. Tebow was presented with a choice.
She was a missionary in the Philippines when she was stricken with
amoebic dysentery. Doctors feared for her life and urged her to abort
her fetus. That she would give birth to a son who would become the first underclassman to win the coveted Heisman Trophy
is wonderful. Also wonderful is that Ms. Tebow was able to make an
informed decision. Her doctors weren’t muzzled by far-right zealots who
want women to carry their pregnancies to term no matter what. And she
wasn’t forced by those doctors to end her pregnancy.
Focus on the Family is touting Ms. Tebow’s right to choose while
trying to deny the same opportunity — the same right — to other
The anti-abortion group Focus on the Family thinks the Tebows have a message to sell:
That Pam Tebow was told in 1987 to abort her baby because it might
be stillborn, she didn’t do it and, lo, he grew into an inspirational
young man dedicated to doing good works around the world (when he’s not
on the football field).
Pro-choice opponents of the ad claim the ad will send the message to
people that abortion should not be permitted, that abortion should in
fact be outlawed (presumably so more quarterbacks can be born into the
The facts behind the ad send a different message to me.
They say that Tebow’s mom had a choice and she made it: She decided not to get an abortion.
As long as women have the right to make that choice, the men and women who think abortions should be legal ought to relax.
Finally, as Minnesota blogger Jeff Fecke points out the biggest glossed over fact in the FOF narrative: if Tebow’s mother had actually had the abortion, it would have been illegal.
You see, while Pam Tebow may have been advised by doctors to seek an
abortion, she’s leaving a very big background piece unstated: abortion is illegal in the Philippines.
“Well,” you say, “this is different. I mean, her life was in jeopardy, so obviously, that was legal.” Au contraire.
The Philippine criminal code makes no exception for life or health of
the mother. Had Pam Tebow had an abortion, she could have been jailed,
as could her physician and anyone else who assisted her.
Now, that doesn’t mean Pam Tebow is lying. There are about 470,000 abortions
performed annually in the Philippines, and about 80,000 women
hospitalized for complications of abortion. 12 percent of all maternal
deaths in 2000 were due to unsafe abortons, of course, because abortion
is illegal — but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. As anyone with a
rudimentary understanding of abortion policy knows, outlawing abortion
doesn’t stop abortion. It just makes it much less safe.
But this is an important part of the story that Pam and Tim Tebow
are ignoring. Because the organization they’re supporting — Focus on
the Family — is virulently anti-abortion, and supports making it
illegal. But by Pam Tebow’s own admission, outlawing abortion didn’t
stop her Filipino physician from recommending it. She had a choice —
but one that was more dangerous than it had to be, one that could have
had legal repercussions for her and her family.
Understand, I don’t begrudge Pam Tebow if she would have made that choice freely. The whole point of pro-choice
is that it places the ultimate decision to continue or abort a
pregnancy with the woman who is pregnant. Pam Tebow was willing to risk
her life to bring her son into the world. That was her choice.
But doubtless, there are Filipinas who even today are in the same
grave position Pam Tebow was in, who would like to make their own
informed choice, but who are not American and lack the connections and
relative wealth Tebow had. Some may choose to carry to term. Some may
choose an abortion. But all of them deserve to make that choice based
on the dictates of their own consciences, without fear of jail or death.
Ultimately, Pam and Tim Tebow want to limit the right of women to
decide what happens in their own bodies. And to do so, they’re willing
to fudge the truth about the circumstances surrounding her own choice —
one that was not completely free, one that was not completely safe, one
that she could not make based solely on her own conscience. She wants
to argue that she had a choice when, frankly, she did not. I do believe
the Bible has something to say about bearing false witness. But that, I
suppose, isn’t important when you’ve got an anti-choice message to
I guess there was only so much that could be covered in 30 seconds.
Mini Roundup: Anti-abortion groups are claiming every Obama appointment is a "radical fringe activist" picked to create a pro-abortion, incompetent government. Meanwhile, former President George W. Bush is being invited to speak at their pro-life rallies.
January 27, 2010
Gets His NARAL Meeting » New York Daily News
pregnancy rate rises. Are abstinence-only programs to blame? Los Angeles Times
Pregnancy centers mislead public The Daily Collegian Online
What It Says About America Huffington Post
right to wear a pro-life pin World Magazine
Tebow’s pro-life ad:
Thumbs up Kansas
reflected stance of pro-life taxpayers Bloomington Pantagraph
anti-Catholic nominee a second chance
Tebow rushes into the abortion debate Washington Post
to speak to abortion
pregnancy and abortion Economist