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Pro-choice missteps

BY JUSTIN SUGG | FEBRUARY 10, 2010 7:30 AM

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Super Bowl commercials often receive as much media attention as the game. But one ad grabbed media attention out of controversy rather than its humor.

The response to the commercial was telling, and it highlighted the hypocrisies of the pro-choice movement.

For those who’ve been living under a rock (and said rock didn’t have cable, satellite, or a digital converter), the Tim Tebow commercial was rumored to show Pam Tebow — the quarterback’s mother — recounting how doctors advised her to abort Tim out of concern for her health. She instead chose to carry the pregnancy to term, and the rest is history.

Leading the criticism against the ad was National Organization for Women President Terry O’Neill, who told the Associated Press the commercial “is not being respectful of other people’s lives. It’s offensive to hold one way out as being a superior way over everybody else’s.”

Her and others’ overwhelming support for abortion presents a very narrow view of a woman’s right to choose. Groups such as NOW have become more pro-abortion than pro-choice. Even if that is not their intent, it certainly appears that way. At the very least, they’ve framed the pro-choice movement around a particular set of choices, but not all of them.

The commercial that aired consisted of Pam Tebow calling her son a miracle and said there were numerous occasions when she could have lost him during her pregnancy. That is not to say there weren’t controversial elements surrounding the ad. Focus on the Family, a conservative group that supports restrictions on abortion access and opposes gay rights, paid for it.

But just because the group that funded the ad is anti-abortion doesn’t mean the commercial is. There is a difference between content that describes certain options and one that advocates certain positions.

At most, the Tebow ad only describes a potential outcome from a choice. This is vastly different from a video such as Champions for Life, which featured former New York Giant football players Phil Simms and George Martin, among others. In this ad, Martin condemned Roe v. Wade, comparing it to the Dred Scott decision. This ad is worthy of criticism because it advocated restricting abortion rights.

All the Tebow ad did is describe a particular option — an option that is absent from many pro-choice groups’ literature. There is an abundance of information advocating abortion and making it more accessible, but there is a lack of literature advising women to keep the child or put it up for adoption.

None of these options should be the preferred choice over each other, but when pro-choice groups such as NOW attack an ad that just communicates an option, their rhetoric becomes anti-choice. It sounds hypocritical and also has the potential of driving people such as myself away — people who believe life begins at conception but also believe women should be free to choose.

That’s not a group the pro-choice movement should scare away. A 2009 Gallup poll showed people who identify themselves as “pro-life” now constitute the majority opinion. When pro-choice groups criticize positive ads such as the Tebow commercial, they drive moderates into the arms of anti-choice groups such as Focus on the Family.

Pro-choice groups that become this myopic could negatively affect an expectant mother’s decision-making rather than inform her of options available. If all a woman (or any person, for that matter) sees is one particular point of view, she may feel her options are restricted. In that event, pro-choice groups become no better than the anti-abortion groups they criticize.

Choosing whether to carry a pregnancy to term can be a very complicated decision, and no woman should receive criticism for her choice — even Pam Tebow. Pro-choice groups should keep that in mind if they truly want to be pro-choice.


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