Anti Choice Super Bowl Ad to Feature Heisman Winner

Thanks to Jodi Jacobson at RH Reality Check , where this post first appeared.


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.” 

“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 RH Reality Check:

In 2007, The Children’s Defense Fund published its Congressional
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 regarding 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?

What do you think?

OPEN Sports via Flickr/Creative Commons
By Jodi Jacobson, Editor, RH Reality Check


Neil S.
Neil S.6 years ago

Completely agree with you about hearing every angle. Like I said in a previous post, “I'm all for hearing many voices at the feast.” There is a difference to hearing all sides and making a considered choice as a result than having a one sided advert rammed down your throat at a football game. But, that also requires some answers to the other questions relating to this specific case which you have not attempted to answer such as:
How many hungry people could be fed by the $2.5million this ad is costing? How many healthcare procedures could this money have paid for poor people with no health insurance? How much sex education or contraception could this pay for?

Pearl C.
Past Member 6 years ago

How can a woman choose what's right for her if she only hears one side? Does anyone really think the doctor is going to give her the whole picture? Not hardly. In many cases they are not allowed to.

Roe v Wade happened in the dark ages. We didn't know the whole story. We had no ultrasound. We didn't know that the baby had a beating heart and nervous system. We didn't know what a horror we were in for, that babies were going to be aborted at practically full term. The women's lib movement was a disaster. Did you know that the woman who was railroaded into the suit is now a pro-life advocate? She even worked in an abortion clinic. She saw an abortion by ultrasound and it broke her heart.

Before RvW abortion was illegal. But never was a woman forced to carry a baby if it was a danger to her life. Pregnancy is not a terminal illness. It is a temporary condition. We now have open adoption. You get to meet the adopting parents and they can help you with expenses.

Bev B.
Past Member 6 years ago

I have just emailed CBS to tell them that this matter is a PRIVATE one, between a DOCTOR and a PATIENT, and has no business in the PUBLIC media. I also think that MULDER and SCULLY should be brought in to investigate ALIEN brain snatching at CBS !!!!

Neil S.
Neil S.6 years ago

PS - Why does Tim feel the need to have John 3:16 emblazoned under his eyes in this photograph? Does it share God's love and make a difference? How many hungry people could be fed by the $2.5million this ad is costing? How many healthcare procedures could this money have paid for for poor people with no health insurance? How much sex education or contraception could this pay for? Does he work for Trijicon Inc,the multimillion-dollar killer arms manufacturer who are in trouble for proselytising with biblical verses on their weapons of destruction?

Neil S.
Neil S.6 years ago

Cynthia - You make some interesting points. I'm all for hearing "many voices at the feast". In terms of the problems the girls you mention have/had, there are alternative views. Might some of the problems be due to - Woefully underfunded adoption marketing and availability? Woefully inadequate pre and post termination advice, counselling and support? Poor sex education? Poor availability or affordability of contraception? Avoidable guilt trips caused by unhealthy religious viewpoints?
Avoidable guilt trips caused by repressive and constraining political and societal attitudes to female freedom and self-control? Just some thoughts. No armchair here - I've worked professionally in the field for 20 years and also have personal experience of this difficult subject matter.

gerlinde p.
gerlinde p.6 years ago

interesting read, both the article and the comments.

Greg L.
Gregory L.6 years ago

Jodi Jacobson's comments are right on. This is a continuation of the perennial 'war on sex' that right wingers use to CONTROL PEOPLE. Know them by their actions not their words. Their lives are out of control so they try to control others. They are complete phonies and in need of deep psychological help.

cynthia j.
cynthia j.6 years ago

Also to call this article "Anti -Choice Ad" is propaganda. THe add is simply offering a different choice. Shame on the columnist for trying to bias people before they even read the article.

cynthia j.
cynthia j.6 years ago

Neil, I find your generalization that "caring pro-llifers" people support "war". You assume that everyone who supports pro life is like your last president. That shows "objective methodology". Unless you personally know everyone who speaks about pro life you should not be making flippant judgements about what they do and don't care about. It is interesting to see how you throw out all those scenarios about children on the street etc etc, yet you are not in favour of someone sharing the other side of the story. Yes in cases where there are health issues and such a person can choose abortion but I don't know how in touch you are with the youth of the last 10 years,but many look at abortion as birth control. I know of a few girls who had 2 or 3 abortions by the time they were in gr 12. Other classmates were deeply affected by abortions they had. Saying that no one really told them how awful it would be. So to assume people only get abortions for health and safety reasons is a little naive. So sit back in the armchair and relax.

cynthia j.
cynthia j.6 years ago

I don't see anything wrong with it. Many people really don't know how an abortion affects a person. Not just emotionally but physically. THere are pro choice ads all over bus stops, radio, and t.v so in a "democratic" country there should be nothing wrong with this ad. It is interesting how if another group showed this there would be no problem...or if it was promoting something else. But because it is a christian based group then it is criticized. Unless it is promoting harm or discrimination or done in a disrespectful way then this shouldn't even be an issue. It is a double standard to allow and promote pro choice and not let others have a say. SHame on all of you freedom of speech oppressors. WIth infertility on rise why not let people promote birth and adoption? THere are beer ads which promoting drinking while young children are watching and sexy ads. So who cares if there is feel good story with a point. I'm sure many people out there have changed their mind on abortion and not regretted it. Whether they give the child for adoption or keep.