Despite a policy of prohibiting policy ads, even ones that carry an “implicit” endorsement for a side in a public debate CBS is set to air an anti-abortion ad staring former University of Florida quarterback Tim Tebow. Colorado-based Focus on the Family paid the nearly 3 million dollars for the 30-second spot.
The preliminary script for the Tebow ad has Tebow and his mother describing a crisis in her pregnancy. While on a mission trip in the Philippines Tebow’s mother Pam contracted an illness that ultimately left her in a coma and severely compromised her pregnancy with Tim. Her doctors advised her to end her pregnancy and she refused. According to Focus on the Family, the ad will tell that story and highlight a theme of “choosing life.”
Serious maternal illness can be a devastating result for otherwise healthy and viable pregnancies, and the fact that Tebow was born without complication is certainly a good outcome. But the ad, and it’s explicit and implicit messaging, reveals a dishonestly in the evangelical anti-abortion movement that, if CBS plays the ad, they will become complicit in spreading. That is, to celebrate the “choice” of life is to simultaneously celebrate the existence of a choice, not take it away.
Just like Bristol Palin, one cannot celebrate their decision not to have an abortion while demonizing and seeking to criminalize the very existence of the ability to make that choice. Pam Tebow made an informed decision after consultation with her physicians. That ability, and the collective respect to trust her with such a decision, is the very thing Focus on the Family and the Tebows, and now CBS, hope to eradicate.
In the past CBS has rejected ads from groups such as MoveOn.org and PETA on the grounds that the proposed content was too controversial, but it is hard to imagine a topic more controversial than abortion. So why take this ad and not one from United Church of Christ proclaiming their support for same-sex question. That’s a good, reasonable question to ask and one that CBS has yet to answer.
Interestingly, many sports writers are not pleased with CBS’ decision, not necessarily because they are pro-choice, but because they don’t believe that a football game is the appropriate venue to air anti-abortion ads. So far their complaints have fallen on deaf ears as well.
The Superbowl is the most-watched television program in the country and CBS is giving a vocally anti-gay, evangelical advocacy group access and ability to spread a misleading message concerning reproductive rights. Since they wont explain the apparent shift in policy, women’s rights groups are demanding CBS pull the ad. You can too. Join the Care2 petition and send CBS a message that unless all advocacy groups have access to advertising slots, none should.
photo courtesy of Open Sports via Flickr