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Anti-Choice Ad to Air During the Superbowl- Editorial

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Focus on the Family will air a 30 second anti-choice ad that features University of Florida football star Tim Tebow, during the popular sports event, the Superbowl.

All headline news has stated the ad will be about Tebow’s mother choice not to have an abortion when she was pregnant with him. This went against her doctor’s advice, based on her complicated pregnancy.

The New York Times has written that selling “issue ads” during this sports event is unprecedented. Several women’s groups have been outspoken about their opposition to this ad. Most notably, the Center for Reproductive Rights has expressed its opposition to this ad, sanctioned by CBS.

How much will the ad cost? Well, approximately $2.8 million. The New York Daily News maintains that the money came from “very generous and committed friends.” For years now Focus on the Family has been under financial constraints. It has laid off staff for a total of six times since 2005, and recently laid off almost 8 percent of the staff in September of 2009.

Founder James Dobson announced that he will be leaving the organization to start a new organization and a new radio show, called “James Dobson on the Family.” He has been hosting a daily radio show with a loyalty of 1.5 million listeners.

I am not one of the listeners and so cannot comment on the contents of his radio show.

The controversy surrounding this ad has reached mainstream TV news stations. From watching these newscasts, I learned that Tebow wears bible verses on his football uniform. The man certainly likes to draw attention, and appearing in an anti-choice ad will bring even more attention to him.

There is something about all this that just screams “inappropriate.” These ads have no place being aired during a football game. What is wrong with CBS? Was the money just too good to be ignored?

The Center for Reproductive Rights points out that Tebow’s mother was in the Philippines when her doctor suggested ending the pregnancy, due to her serious condition. In the same paragraph the Center says that it is too bad that Philippine women do not have the same option or reproductive choice as Ms. Tebow. Abortion is illegal in that country, and the law does not allow for any exceptions, including saving the life of a mother.

Add a Comment15 Comments

I personally think it's inappropriate to air this ad during the Superbowl just because Tim Tebow is the main focus. If you're going to make an anti-choice ad the message should be about abortion itself not "Don't get an abortion because the baby you're carrying could potentially be a football star." I hate to be stereotyping here but let's be real, this is an ad that should be centered towards women being aired at a time when MEN are the majority watching it. Yes, women watch football too, I'm one of them. But their target audience should be women, not men drinking beer and eating pretzels. The whole thing is ridiculous but I hope Tim Tebow feels a sense of accomplishment from this.

February 4, 2010 - 1:22pm

I agree with you that there should be petitions to stop those ads, unless of course there are ads showing great looking men, in which case the women could do the oogling and their husbands and boyfriends would be made to feel "less than." But nine times out of ten, it is the women who are expected to meet impossible standards of beauty. And that is a whole different article.

February 4, 2010 - 10:08am

Dear Anonymous of Feb. 4,
No, I haven't seen the ad, however I am of the firm conviction that an anti-choice ad should not be aired during this sports event. And to think that a man is doing it. Like I said, he should stick to playing football, for I believe he has no business in speaking up. Men have the perfect right not to believe in abortion, but it is distasteful, and sometimes misogynistic, when they start going around telling women what to do with their bodies.

February 4, 2010 - 8:41am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anna Portela)

Dear Anna,

This ad does not tell anyone what to do with their bodies. It simply celebrates a woman's choice. Just as pro-life proponents might find an ad that depicts a woman-let's say a famous, successful heart surgeon-telling her story of how she was faced with the choice of aborting her fetus and chose to do so. They then show the path of her life from the moment of her choice, making a point that if she had chosen to have a child at age 18, she might not be where she is today. She might have been a long suffering single mother who never went back to college and never became the successful heart surgeon who saved so many lives. I dare say pro-life proponents would be up in arms at a pro-abortion message being delivered. But....well, deal with it. As I said, we still have freedom of speech and abortion is legal just as the right to choose not to have one is. And to the prior poster who feels sorry for the woman who might have some regret for choosing an abortion, well, that again is something she has to deal with. We can not edit our society (you might edit your own personal words with a friend but that is different) to make sure nothing offends or hurts someone. I feel more sorry for the plain Jane girls with a flat chest and no confidence who has to view all the ads that tell them how only beautiful, large busted women appeal to the man. How sad for them to have to sit through the Superbowl and watch ads-primarily made by men for men, with their man as he oogles the sexy, hot woman and makes her feel even worse and 'less than'. Why aren't their petitions to stop those ads? Very interesting.

February 4, 2010 - 9:03am

Hi, Anna,

What a thoughtful editorial on a sensitive issue. Thank you.

There are commercials all the time that take moralistic overtones. What about the anti-smoking commercials that show how smoking threatens the life and health of an unborn child? They are strident and piercing in their depiction of the fetus taking smoke into its lungs and being harmed. They do not care who they offend. They want to get their point made in the most graphic way that they can.

And I can see why it's airing during the Super Bowl. Tim Tebow was one of the, if not THE, most celebrated college football players of the recent season and will no doubt be a first-round draft choice this spring. If someone wants to pay him to be in a commercial, if he wants to be in that commercial, and if that organization has the money to buy a Super Bowl spot, it's a free country -- and a capitalistic one -- and all those things are allowed.

However, the women I feel bad for are those women who also were pregnant, who also were told by their doctors that they should terminate their pregnancies for health reasons, and who followed their doctors' advice. Those women may now be thinking, "if I hadn't done what my doctor said to do, I might have a healthy 22-year-old child who would be a success in life." They now can be made to feel guilty in all number of new ways: Look what you could have had if you just didn't have an abortion! Look what a fool you were to follow your doctor's advice! You made the wrong decision! Look how big a mistake you made!

And to me, that's the most insensitive part of all.

February 4, 2010 - 8:21am
EmpowHER Guest

I do not understand how anyone can say this is an 'inappropriate' time slot to air this ad. I have seen the ad and it's not offensive at all. You may not agree with the message this ad hopes to convey, but that alone should not make an ad be deemed 'inappropriate'. I for one find the overt sexual ads demeaning women as sex objects with huge fake breasts having fights with each other for the sake of turning a man on, much more offensive and inappropriate given that the Superbowl is a family friendly show. We still have freedom of speech in this country and just as an ad for birth control pills or the morning after pill might offend some, it should not be disallowed just due to a segment of the population that doesn't agree with practicing birth control. Seriously, watch the ad and take out your personal beliefs and find anything that is offensive. It's tasteful and a celebration of life. The right to choose not to have an abortion is just as legal as the right to choose to have one. Either one of those decisions should not be taken lightly. Maybe this ad will help assist someone in the process of choosing make the right choice for her. Don't feel so threatened. Btw, I have had two abortions and I have had three children.

February 4, 2010 - 7:59am

Hi Kelley,
Yes, what a place to air an anti-choice ad! And all for the sake of money.

February 1, 2010 - 8:11am

Go to www.womensmediacenter.com and sign a petition against this ad. They are running a very effective campaign about this outrage!

February 1, 2010 - 6:57am

First Anna let me praise your wonderful article which has stirred great discussion on this topic. Each year broadcast television has been loosing market share to other media and each year CBS has had an increasingly difficult time selling out the Super Bowl TV time. I think CBS's recent policy to change to allow these types of ads is a strong indicator they need all the help they can in selling this high prices -over rated inventory. Any good marketer knows it's a waste of money to reach large masses if the audience is not the correct target market. I cannot think of a more mismatched target market for an anti abortion ad than the super bowl audience/demographics.

January 30, 2010 - 1:30pm
Expert HERWriter Guide Blogger

This so-called "controversy" has been interesting to watch. I happen to live in a city with a company that has made a practice for several years now of producing controversial ads that demean women in order to push the limits with the network on whether or not the ads will air during the Super Bowl, with the REAL objective being to create publicity around the ads that drives exponential publicity for the company. I suspect more of the same kind of thinking in this case. It's odd to find content about a woman's right to manage her own life and body, as well as content that deliberately ridicules a woman's body, being generated for a sports show aimed at a primarily male audience that's a lot more interested in football, chips and beer than in any topic dealing with the welfare or dignity of women. Bizarre!

January 29, 2010 - 6:46pm
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