Monday, February 01, 2010

Sex and the Super Bowl: Tell CBS ENOUGH

It's one week to the Super Bowl.

You've probably heard already that CBS has accepted $2.8 million from Focus on the Family to run an anti-abortion ad during the most-watched television event of the year. Focus and CBS are trying to dress it up, saying the ad is more a human interest story than an advocacy ad.

Sounds like a wolf in sheep's clothing to me. Although the ad is not available for preview, its storyline is. Florida quarterback Tim Tebow and his mother talk about the supposed circumstances of his birth in 1987. Mrs. Tebow's health was threatened in her late second trimester, and she alleges that medical professionals advised her to have an abortion. She refused...and 23 years later, the world is blessed to have her outstanding football player son.

The story may not be true. The Center for Law and Reproductive Policy says that Mrs. Tebow, who lived in the Philippines at the time, could not have been offered a legal abortion, because it was (and remains) illegal in that country.

But the veracity of the story is only a side point. The fact is that the ad clearly implies that Mrs. Tebow made the right choice, the only moral choice. Ironically, Mrs. Tebow made a CHOICE, something that the anti-abortion Focus on the Family would take away from other women.

The ad will imply that there is one right choice, one moral choice, one choice that is supported by people of faith. That's why the Religious Institute created a letter from national religious leaders opposing it. You can read it here.

Until last week, CBS said it had a policy against advocacy ads. In the past, it has rejected ads from the United Church of Christ on full inclusion,, PETA, and others as being too controversial. Just last week, it rejected an ad from a gay dating site as being too controversial for the Super Bowl. Somehow CBS doesn't seem to care that a lot of us find the ubiquitous ads for Erectile Dysfunction or the scantily dressed women in so many of their ads offensive as well.
I believe in using television for "teachable moments" with my children -- but really, does any parent need them during a football game?

There's still a chance to tell CBS to JUST SAY NO. Abortion is surely a serious issue that can be debated on public affairs programs, but NOT during the Super Bowl. To those who say that pro-choice advocates should develop their own ad, the reality is that most of those organizations, if they had $2.8 million lying around, would devote it to providing services to women, not on a 30- second TV spot.

Both the Women's Media Center and NARAL have petitions on their websites you can sign. We still have a week to tell CBS ENOUGH. Join me.


Crystal Haidl said...

Possibly more impact would be made, if a typical en masse "focus on the family"-style call-in campaign against the ad to CBS during its airing were strategized. Here is a lengthy but balanced look at the 1996 ruling over the FCC re political abortion ads --candidate madates vs allowances for non-election ads.

The Supreme Court's recent ruling that allows corporate freedoms to be = to an individual's 1st Amendment Rights adds to media power.

Cynthia L. Landrum said...

Good post & good arguments. Thanks. I had trouble with a couple of your links, particularly the first one. You might want to check it.

Cassandra said...

I'm a little surprised you're questioning the veracity of Mrs. Tebow's story. It seems rather petty of you.

Anonymous said...

Signing now. Thank you.

Linda said...

"If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly & shame."
Since you (& no one else) has seen the ad, you are making huge leaps in what you assume it says. Isn't not aborting a baby a choice & shouldn't you respect women who made that choice? Be a true pro-choice woman & not just pro-abortion.

Lyn said...

I agree with Linda. I am pro-choice, and that means that I honor women who choose to keep their babies. What is wrong with them telling their stories as well? As you said, whether or not the story is true is a side note. Just because the ad implies it is a moral choice, does not mean it implies it is the ONLY moral choice. I agree that CBS should be consistent. That said, conservatives have as much of a right to get their message out as liberals.