Tim Tebow, the All-American quarterback from the University of Florida, has infuriated pro-abortion advocates by sharing a pro-life message during a 30-second Super Bowl ad. Tebow is contributing to the ad because of the amazing story surrounding his own birth. Tebow was born in the Philippines while his parents were serving as missionaries. While carrying Tim, Pam Tebow battled a terrible infection caused by a parasite. The drugs used to treat Pam’s infection caused a placental abruption, a dangerous pregnancy complication occurring when the placenta prematurely separates from the uterus. Physicians encouraged Pam Tebow to abort her child, but she courageously chose to carry her baby to term, giving birth to a very healthy Tim in 1987. This remarkable and uplifting story is the focus of the pro-life ad.
Pro-Abortion groups have responded with vitriolic attacks on both CBS, broadcaster of this year’s Super Bowl, and the Tebows. Not surprisingly, some of the most scathingly caustic criticisms have come from The National Organization for Women (NOW). Erin Matson is a young, motivated feminist passionately committed to the ideals advocated by radical feminism and is the NOW “Action Vice President.” Matson criticized Tebow in a hostile manner, saying, “This ad is frankly offensive. It is hate masquerading as love. It sends a message that abortion is always a mistake.” NOW President Terry O’Neill called the ad offensive and demeaning and said: “That’s not being respectful of other people’s lives. It is offensive to hold one way out as being a superior way over everybody else’s.”
Tebow offered a reasoned response and said: “I know some people won’t agree with it [the ad]. But I think they can at least respect that I stand up for what I believe. I’ve always been very convicted of [his views on abortion] because that’s the reason I’m here, because my mom was a very courageous woman.”
I think Tebow’s comments reflect that the furor stimulated by his ad may really be more about freedom of speech than just abortion. Notice that radical feminists do not enter into a reasoned, serious discussion about the dangers of a placental abruption and options for treatment. Instead, the Tebow family is labeled as hate mongers. Yet, the Tebow Evangelistic Association operates an orphanage in the Philippines called “Uncle Dick’s House” that is the home to 50 children. The Tebow ministry has also helped rescue young girls from slavery in Thailand. This hardly sounds like a family with an extreme revulsion for people in difficult circumstances like crisis pregnancies. Instead, this sounds like a very dedicated family that not only tries to live out their faith by helping others, but has trusted God in some of the most difficult moments they have faced personally.
The furor over this ad demonstrates the totalitarian tendencies of the radical left which seems more than happy to have the freedom of speech to express their own biased assumptions while simultaneously opposing the freedom to express different ideas. When someone presents an opposing position on a hotly debated topic, such as abortion, the left often engages in a kind of censorship and moves to suppress information that might be objectionable to their agenda. Thus, NOW declares the Tebow message “offensive.” However, freedom of speech does not guarantee freedom from being offended. For example, many readers in the 1800’s were deeply offended by the moral message of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Most of those offended were in fact slave-owners themselves who were angry that anyone would suggest that the practice of slavery was morally wrong. Using the moral reasoning advocated by NOW President O’Neil, perhaps slave-owners could have argued, “It is offensive to suggest that freedom for all people is an idea that is superior to the idea that some people should be subjected to forced human bondage.”
Our Republic was established with the noble ideal of a “market place of ideas” in which people present their arguments in the public forum and the best ideas win. With this in mind, I am deeply convinced that the sanctity of human life is an idea that is fundamental to liberty and justice. A society that affirms the sanctity of human life sends the message that people of every shape, size, socio-economic class, color and gender are welcomed. In this way, the sanctity of life promotes a more egalitarian and free nation. The sanctity of life is the first and primary right because if we are not granted the right to live, then we never have the opportunity to exercise any other right.
There have been approximately 50 million abortions since 1973, the vast majority of which did not involve any medical issue approaching the seriousness of a placental abruption. I find this far more offensive than any Super Bowl ad. At the same time, I in fact affirm NOW’s right to disagree with the pro-life message. I do assume the people arguing for NOW are in fact happy that they themselves were not aborted and are thus present to exercise their freedom of speech and thus make their case for abortion. Though my comments may be offensive, I feel compelled to say, “I’m glad the mom of every NOW member chose life.” (Alan Branch is vice president for student development at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City.)