This year’s Super Bowl is mired in controversy revolving around CBS’s plans to broadcast an ad featuring Florida football star Tim Tebow which will most likely contain an anti-abortion message. The network’s decision is being protested by prominent women’s organizations including the Women’s Media Center, NOW, and the Feminist Majority Foundation, but there is no sign that the network is reconsidering the ad.
The Associated Press reports:
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 ad is being funded by Focus on the Family, a conservative Christian group known for, among other things, opposing LGBT civil rights and purchasing ultrasound machines for crisis pregnancy centers.
Much of the criticism of CBS comes from the fact that the network has a policy which prevents them from airing “contentious advocacy ads.” In 2004, for example, CBS rejected an ad from the United Church of Christ which highlighted the church’s practice of embracing LGBT individuals and others who are not welcome at more conservative churches. Why CBS used its policy to reject an ad that emphasizes tolerance and diversity, while accepting an ad which is not only divisive, but also suggests that women should feel guilty about choosing to undergo a perfectly legal medical procedure, is, in a word, baffling.
From the Women’s Media Center’s letter to CBS:
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 ad is condescending and offensive to women who want to make their own decisions about their own bodies. These women know that Tim Tebow’s mother’s decision is important not because she chose to give birth specifically, but because she had a choice at all.