Last night's broadcast of the Tim Tebow/Focus on the Family "Choose Life" commercial surprised quite a few people, myself included. The ad was cute, direct, and noncontroversial. Too bad I followed the link to the website of its sponsor.
From the beginning of the extended video spot with Focus on the Family president Jim Daly, Pam Tebow stops mincing words, calling Tim's story "a God story" and saying all things are possible through God.
Bob Tebow, Tim's dad, explains how he came up with the idea of having another child (at the point Tim was born, the couple had four healthy children):
"I was weeping over the loss of millions of babies in America who were never given a chance. And I prayed and said, 'God, if you want another preacher in this world, you give me a son.' [...] So the next day I went home and shared with my family my prayer that I'd begun and everybody joined in. We started praying, by name, for God to give us Timmy."
Pam Tebow also delves into the realities of a high risk pregnancy. She was 37 at the time she conceived Tim, and the initial diagnosis from doctors was that the child she carried looked like a block of fetal tissue, not a baby. Tebow explains she was willing to ignore the doctor's advice and live by God's plan - even if it resulted in her death. Pam Tebow relates how her physicians gave her medicine to help with the symptoms of the pregnancy, but felt "compelled" while reading the Book of Timothy to go and double check its side-effects. Since the medicine was known to cause birth defects in children, she threw away the rest of the medication and soldiered on through the rest of the term. When Timmy was born, both Tebows explain, there was a "great big clump of blood", due to the excessive pregnancy complications.
As the story concludes, Daly asks the Tebows if they have anything to say to young women who may be unsure about proceeding with a pregnancy.
Pam Tebow pulls the classic pro-life move by co-opting the idea of choice:
"That baby's not a mistake, even if it might seem that way...there are so many people, so many pregnancy crisis centers across the country, just waiting to encourage someone in her position. Girls have those options. They have a choice. God has his hand on the situation."
Bob Tebow just says it outright: "God loves you and your baby. There are lots of people that will help you. Don't kill your baby."
The couple then quote John 10:10 - "The enemy comes to kill, steal, and destroy. I come that they may have life, and have it abundantly."
The Focus on the Family video is surrounded by links to other projects. One of which, promising "the truth" about abortion explains how the procedure works - by using horror movie style imagery:
Suction Curettage: between 6 to 14 weeks after LMP
This is the most common surgical abortion procedure. Because the baby is larger, the doctor must first stretch open the cervix using metal rods. Opening the cervix may be painful, so local or general anesthesia is typically needed. After the cervix is stretched open, the doctor inserts a hard plastic tube into the uterus, then connects this tube to a suction machine. The suction pulls the fetus' body apart and out of the uterus. The doctor may also use a loop-shaped knife called a curette to scrape the fetus and fetal parts out of the uterus. (The doctor may refer to the fetus and fetal parts as the "products of conception.").
Dilation and Evacuation (D&E): between 13 to 24 weeks after LMP
This surgical abortion is done during the second trimester of pregnancy. At this point in pregnancy, the fetus is too large to be broken up by suction alone and will not pass through the suction tubing. In this procedure, the cervix must be opened wider than in a first trimester abortion. This is done by inserting numerous thin rods made of seaweed a day or two before the abortion. Once the cervix is stretched open the doctor pulls out the fetal parts with forceps. The fetus' skull is crushed to ease removal. A sharp tool (called a curette) is also used to scrape out the contents of the uterus, removing any remaining tissue.
Focus on the Family (and other affiliated groups) make it sound like Sweeney Todd, the demon OB-GYN of Planned Parenthood is in charge of all abortion services. They also try to tackle the abortion pill, but since they can't make it sound appropriately gruesome, they focus on stories of ectopic pregnancies exploding in fallopian tubes. (Interestingly, procedures used to treat an ectopic pregnancies are never mentioned.)
Another link exhorts viewers to "Be A Voice For Life' and provides links to support crisis pregnancy centers and to adopt. One link focuses on "Men: Moving Past the Pain of Abortion":
Scotty didn't know that abortion would take him to a place of brokenness unlike anything he had ever experienced-and would prevent him from leading his wife and children the way God intended.
Abortion destroys a man's ability to lead his family morally and spiritually
When a man doesn't protect his unborn child, either by passively watching the woman in his life have an abortion, or by forcing her to abort, it can undermine his confidence in his manhood. Why? Because God created men to be protectors, just as women are nurturers. To protect is a deep, God-given desire; and when a man understands he has violated God's principle of protection through abortion, it can erode his confidence to lead his family, both morally and spiritually.
The issues in the pro-life/pro-choice debate do not begin and end at conception and birth. The fight is about personhood. It is about the role and influence of religion in public life and policy. It is about autonomy. It is about the rights of women to make critical choices about their own lives. While making the happy, smiling Tebow family as the face of the pro-life movement is an effective tactic, it obscures the point of the debate. This is all about choice. If a woman does not believe in abortion, for religious reasons or otherwise, she has the right not to make that decision. If a woman wants to have an abortion, no one should have the right to wrench that decision from her.
Earlier: "He's My Timmy": The First Tim Tebow Ad Finally Hits The Airwaves
Tim Tebow, Take Two: "He Almost Didn't Make It Into This World"
Super Bowl Showdown: College Quarterback To Star In Controversial Abortion Ad