You’ve probably heard by now that Tim Tebow, a former quarterback for the University of Florida and a vocal Christian, will be starring in an anti-abortion advertisement with his mother, Pam Tebow, during the Super Bowl. The Tebows’ 30-second spot was paid for by a conservative Christian organization called Focus on the Family and tells the story of how, in 1987, Pam had been advised by doctors to have an abortion because of medical complications in her pregnancy. Pam refused, and later gave birth to Tim, who went on to win the Heisman Trophy (and, admittedly, looked sort of hot in a jock-ish way). Unsurprisingly, women’s organizations have joined together asking CBS not to run Focus on the Family’s commercial.
Women’s organizations, including the more liberal-minded Feminist Majority Foundation, the National Organization for Women, and the Women’s Media Center (full disclosure: I’ve spoken on panels for the WMC several times) asked CBS on Monday not to air the anti-abortion commercial, saying it has “no place” in Super Bowl XLIV. But even though I’m 100 percent supportive of abortion rights, I don’t see eye-to-eye with them on this issue one bit.
Is the Super Bowl the most appropriate time to discuss abortion? No, a football game is supposed to be about beer and onion dip. But alas, anyone who can afford to pony up to $2.8 million for a commercial during the Super Bowl should be allowed to air it. And according to a CBS spokesman, who spoke to the L.A. Times, the network approved the Focus on the Family ad’s script and it is “appropriate for air.”
I do understand why more liberal-minded organizations are pissed though: Airing the Tebow ad is hypocritical considering how, in 2004, CBS refused to run a pro-gay rights ad by the United Church of Christ.
However, a CBS spokesperson recently told The Washington Post the network has eased its “approach to advocacy submissions after it became apparent that our stance did not reflect public sentiment or industry norms.” And that’s fantastic news if it’s equally and fairly applied going forward. Focus on The Family deserves their freedom of speech, not to be censored like the United Church of Christ was censored. If you believe a TV network should not be allowed to pick and choose whose beliefs should be allowed on air, it has to apply to both sides as well.
If those pro-choice orgs could come up with all the dough, I would want them to be able to run commercials during the Super Bowl, too. And considering CBS announced today it will ease restrictions on “advocacy ads” for the Super Bowl broadcast, they just might do that. [L.A. Times, Washington Post]