Commentary Media

What Was Anti-Choicer Tim Tebow Doing Delivering a Baby in a Super Bowl Ad?

Erin Matson

The decision to show Tebow in a maternity ward, wearing a white coat, and coaching a pregnant woman in labor was a bad one. Depicting famously anti-choice spokespeople as experts, or even ordinary Joes, in the arena of reproductive health is not funny. It's disrespectful.

Tim Tebow is a known anti-choice advocate, and T-Mobile’s decision to feature him in a Super Bowl ad delivering a baby communicates a profound disrespect toward women and those made vulnerable to harm by the restriction of reproductive rights. (That’s everyone.)

The ad was one of a series featuring Tebow engaged in a wide range of activities because he is a free agent who no longer has an NFL contract. It was meant to suggest that T-Mobile wireless consumers can also engage in a wide range of activities because the service does not require a contract. As Super Bowl ad concepts go, it’s well within the range of normal to take a football star and give him the Hollywood treatment: make him a hero while things blow up big-budget style, prod a few laughs, and put the sponsor’s logo on the screen.

But one thing the series did was depict Tebow as a neutral actor in the arena of birth, pregnancy, and reproductive health—of which he is not.

Let’s have a brief history lesson: In 2010, Tim Tebow made headlines by partnering with right-wing group Focus on the Family to create a Super Bowl ad designed to spread the group’s anti-choice message.

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The ad created a great deal of controversy for CBS before the Super Bowl that year. In response to outcry from pro-choice advocates and others in the progressive community, CBS acknowledged that it had changed its internal rules regarding advocacy ads. Notably, in 2004, CBS declined to air an ad submitted by the United Church of Christ that had been intended to depict a welcoming stance toward potential parishioners regardless of sexual orientation.

The Focus on the Family Tebow ad that ultimately aired during the 2010 Super Bowl was meant to appear benign. The word “abortion” was not used, it featured Tebow with his mom, Pam, and the spot wrapped by encouraging viewers to go to the group’s website to learn more about their story and, of course, anti-choice views.

Once online, viewers were prompted to watch a longer web-only video sharing a story filled with standard anti-choice rhetoric: assertions that Pam was, during the course of a difficult pregnancy, pressured to have an abortion she did not want, and that medical professionals in the Philippines referred to her fetus as a “tumor” and “blob of tissue.” In the video, Pam extolls the virtues she sees in crisis pregnancy centers, urges women with unplanned pregnancies to avoid abortion, and declares that she takes the platform that her son Tim has seriously.

With this baggage, it’s noteworthy that T-Mobile would choose to depict Tebow delivering a baby in one of its Super Bowl commercials this year. The anti-abortion rights stance parroted by Tebow, Focus on the Family, and the anti-choice community physically endangers women in childbirth. In one gruesome example, Savita Halappanavar died in an Ireland hospital two years ago during a pregnancy because doctors denied her a life-saving abortion.

It may be the case that marketing executives at T-Mobile are not fully aware of the implications of restricting the right to abortion, but with the amount of branding dollars on the line, there is no question that those involved in the release of the recent ad were aware that Tebow had participated in a controversial abortion-related commercial just four years earlier. The decision to show him in a maternity ward, wearing a white coat, and coaching a pregnant woman in labor was a bad one. Depicting famously anti-choice spokespeople as experts, or even ordinary Joes, in the arena of reproductive health is not funny. It’s disrespectful.

News Abortion

$10 For Tebow Translates Into Terry Super Bowl Ads

Robin Marty

If the Broncos make the Super Bowl, this year's may be unwatchable.

When the Abortion Gang tried to turn Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow’s performance on the field into a fundraiser, anti-choice activists were aghast. But now, they are trying to do the same thing themselves, at the request of Randall Terry, the former founder of Operation Rescue.

Think of what “Sophia” and The Abortion Gang have done, to mock God, disparage the Tebow family, and to raise money to murder babies. And then let’s respond as true defenders of Life, and defenders of our faith. Please, give right now. Babies’ lives depend on it. And by the way, after you have given, why don’t you drop a line to The Abortion Gang, and let them know that you are helping fund a wave of Pro-life Super Bowl ads that will save babies from their bloody clutches. After you give, click the email button to send The Abortion Gang an email telling them what you have done for the babies.

Yes, Randall Terry is using Tebow to raise money to run his graphic anti-abortion ads on local stations during the Super Bowl and pregame.  And as a resident in one of his target markets, I guess I can at least thank him for giving me another reason to skip watching the game.

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Pam Tebow Endorses Colorado’s Personhood Amendment

Amie Newman

Pam Tebow, the mother of Denver Broncos' Tim Tebow, has predictably endorsed Colorado's Amendment 62, the only "Personhood" proposition in the country to have made it onto a state ballot.

Not unsurprisingly Pam Tebow, the mother of NFL player Tim Tebow, has endorsed Colorado’s Personhood ballot measure, Amendment 62. The anti-choice measure is the only personhood proposition to have made it onto the ballot in the country.

Pam and Tim Tebow, if you recall, were the stars of a controversial television commercial aired during the Superbowl on CBS, earlier this year. The multi-million dollar spot was paid for by the extreme, fundamentalist Christian, anti-choice, anti-gay organization, Focus on the Family and featured Pam and Tim Tebow discussing Pam’s decision to bring her pregnancy with Tim to term against her physician’s wishes at the time. The controversy arose over the fact that network policy for all network stations bars certain kinds of overt advocacy advertisements and yet this ad, from a known politically active, anti-choice, anti-gay organization was accepted. In years past, in fact, CBS rejected ads by groups like the United Church of Christ for focusing on their stance of welcoming gay and lesbian members into their congregations. While the ad was truly a “soft sell” in terms of advocacy against women’s choices, the backing organization is anything but subtle when it comes to their extreme anti-woman, anti-gay agenda.  It’s why women’s groups and others launched a campaign to try and have the ad removed. Though the spot did run, most say it did little to sway anyone.

Pam Tebow’s story, however, was ultimately revealed as highly manipulated for FoF’s exploitation, baring little resemblance to the truth. Did her doctors in the (heavily Catholic, anti-abortion) Philippines, tell her to have an abortion, late in her pregnancy, to save her own life after experiencing placental abruption, as she stated in one interview? Or was it that she visited her doctor in the United States, early on in her pregnancy, who told her the fetus was just a mass of tissue and that she should abort to “save her life”? The answers were never clear and her story, more generally, became an anti-choice battle-cry. The answer, in fact, is that this was, as it is with any woman’s decision about what to do about an unintended pregnancy, her own private decision and should not be fodder for anyone’s judgements. Except that Tebow is using her story to push for laws that would ban other women from making their own decisions about their health and lives. Her personal decision is now political fuel to restrict other women from being allowed the same courtesy – to make a private decision about herself and the embryo or fetus growing inside.

The irony of Pam Tebow’s recent endorsement of Amendment 62 is how predictable it is. CBS and Focus on the Family tried to sell Tebow’s Superbowl advertisement as simply a “celebration of families.” CBS said they found no basis for rejecting the ad and an FoF representative said, “…There’s nothing political or controversial about it.” Yet, of course, it clearly is political when an organization known for throwing its weight behind policies and legislation (including Amendment 62!) meant to restrict women’s health access and the rights of gay people, pays for a commercial featuring a woman who now has thrown her hat in the ring as a politlcal advocate. In a press release issued about Tebow’s Amendment 62 endorsement, the advertisement is called “pro-life” and both Tebow and FoF are called out for their support of the measure:

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Pam Tebow made headline news when she and Heisman-trophy winning son Tim Tebow appeared in a pro-life television ad during the 2010 Superbowl. The real headline story was not the ad, but Pam’s refusal to let doctor’s take her son’s life while she was pregnant. The ad was sponsored by Focus on the Family, which has also urged Colorado voters to vote “Yes” on Amendment 62. [emphasis added]

Amendment 62 (and the Personhood movement more broadly) has been covered extensively on Rewire for its extreme anti-choice impact. Not only would the amendment criminalize abortion and certain forms of contraception but it may also outlaw in-vitro fertilization and have other disastrous impacts on pregnant women as well.