CBS to run anti-abortion Superbowl ad

CBS has decided to run an ad for fundamentalist Christian group “Focus on the Family”, in which Pam Tebow discusses how she ignored doctors’ advice to have an abortion:

The ad… is expected to recount the story of Pam Tebow’s pregnancy in 1987 with a theme of “Celebrate Family, Celebrate Life.” 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, who went on to win the 2007 Heisman Trophy while helping his Florida team to two BCS championships.

The Women’s Media Center said this in a protest letter:

“By offering one of the most coveted advertising spots of the year to an anti-equality, anti-choice, homophobic organization, CBS is aligning itself with a political stance that will damage its reputation, alienate viewers, and discourage consumers from supporting its shows and advertisers,” the letter said.


All the national networks, including CBS, have policies that rule out the broadcast of certain types of contentious advocacy ads. In 2004, CBS cited such a policy in rejecting an ad by the liberal-leaning United Church of Christ highlighting the UCC’s welcoming stance toward gays and others who might feel shunned by more conservative churches.

CBS was criticized for rejecting that ad – and perhaps might have worried about comparable criticism from conservatives if it had rejected an ad featuring such a charismatic and well-known figure as Tebow.

Or perhaps telling women to ignore their doctors’ advice if there’s any chance at all doing so might result in the birth of a white male football player is just more in line with how CBS sees the world.

I don’t have a problem with anti-abortion ads or political ads in general, so long as everyone gets to play. What bothers me about this ad – assuming the press is accurately reporting what it will contain – is that it salutes a person for ignoring medical advice in order to save her unborn baby. The obvious implication is that any woman who follows medical advice to have an abortion is deficient. I don’t have a problem with Pam Tebow’s choice – if that’s what she wanted to do, good for her for having the chutzpah and I’m thrilled it worked out. But that does not make Ms. Tebow’s choice The Right Choice For Every Woman Having A Medically Complicated Pregnancy.

I’m also saddened at the sheer cynicism of Focus on the Family’s treating Ms. Tebow like a hero for making a choice they don’t want her to have. They never come right out and say it, but a perusal of their articles on abortion at their website, combined with this ad, make it safe speculation that they want a country in which every woman who gets pregnant would be forced to deliver, even if it kills her. Focus on the Family really means focus on the men.

After all, you don’t see them saluting women like Pam Tebow whose complicated pregnancies resulted in a baby girl.


  1. says

    Never mind the irony that Pam Tebow was exorcising her personal decision of whether or not to have an abortion. Perhaps it’s just me, but it sounds like she should actually be in the pro-choice camp, no?

  2. says

    See, I already don’t like Tebow. He’s a little whiny preachy babypants, and that was before I heard about this ad. And now I can’t even watch the Superbowl commercials! I’ll have to YouTube ’em or something, and I’ll do something else with that time.

    Like make educated decisions about my personal health and politics. Yeah! (Really, I’ll just be reading books and/or webcomics.)

  3. Robin says

    Ah, Biku, if only we could convey that attitude to the people at large. It’s unfortunate that groups like FotF have been able to equate “pro-choice” with “pro-consequence-free abortions for everybody, get a few just because you can!”. We just have to keep fighting back by calling them what they really are. Not pro-life, but anti-choice and anti-responsible-birth-control-and-education.

    I’m glad things worked out okay for the Tebows, but they are the exception rather than the rule. And CBS seems pretty irresponsible for so clearly taking sides in the debate through their advertising decisions.

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