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Susan Estrich
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Focus on the Family


CBS will air an ad during the Super Bowl in which college football star Tim Tebow and his mother, Pam Tebow, discuss her decision not to have an abortion despite doctors' advice to do so. The news is creating precisely the stir that its sponsor, the Christian conservative group Focus on the Family, was almost certainly hoping for. Women's groups have called on CBS not to air the ad, arguing that the Super Bowl is no place for one of the most divisive issues in politics. CBS reportedly has approved the script and plans to run the ad.

The irony is that the Tebow story has absolutely nothing to do with the question a woman with an unwanted pregnancy faces. Pam Tebow wanted to have her fifth child, but had become ill during a trip to the Philippines. It was on that basis that doctors recommended an abortion. She ignored them, mother and baby came through just fine, and he went on to win the Heisman trophy. God bless.

What does that have to do with the situation facing a teenage girl pregnant with a child she cannot raise, or a mother who is told that her much-wanted child has a chromosomal condition that is inconsistent with life? What does it have to do with a rape or incest victim and her right not to carry the child of her abuser?

I know plenty of stories like the Tebows'. Some of them end happily. Some do not. Few things are as awful as being told that the child you are carrying may not, or will not, live. Sometimes doctors are wrong, and sometimes they aren't. Are the Tebows really telling American women to ignore their doctors' advice, even when that advice is based on the best medical information? Are they telling women that they should risk their lives rather than have an abortion? Even the dissenters to Roe v.

Wade would not go so far.

The news that teenage pregnancies are up for the first time in years is what we should all be concerned about, working on, thinking about. No one is for abortion, at least not anyone who should be taken seriously. I have never met a woman who had an abortion who viewed it as anything other than a painful, difficult and often heartbreaking decision, particularly when the abortion is the result of medical advice that the woman cannot sustain the pregnancy or the baby will not survive.

Thankfully, in the decades since Pam Tebow's pregnancy, diagnostic techniques have improved, allowing doctors to give better advice. Hopefully today, her doctors would have been able to reassure her that both she and the baby would be fine, and abortion would not even have been an issue.

Given that, the only connection between the Tebow story and the real abortion debate is its ability to make women who have made the painful choice of abortion feel bad. This is emotional manipulation, pure and simple.

The not so subtle implication is that the fetus you aborted would have grown up to be some kind of superstar. How ridiculous. And frankly, how insulting. Without an athletic gene in my body, I can certainly say that I never expected any child of mine to win a Heisman. Like most mothers, I prayed only that they would be healthy. The suggestion that abortion is in any way connected to the value or the potential talents of the baby-to-be is so offensive that it is hard to believe Focus on the Family doesn't see the distorted underside of their own advertisement.

So be it. I might go to the bathroom during that ad or make popcorn. Focus on the Family is getting attention and will get more. But it is doing so by running an ad that is deceptive and ultimately cruel.

To find out more about Susan Estrich and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at



6 Comments | Post Comment
Regarding Susan Estrich's column: I was astounded at the hypocritical overreaction to what she describes as a "decptive" Super Bowl ad. I think "thou dost protest too much". Susan goes beyond a rebuttal to an opposing viewpoint. She instead wishes to completely silence that viewpoint. So much for "choice". Pro abortionsists do not want choice-otherwise they would respectfully listen to other views. Obviously, she has no respect for the right of another person to express their view. In this case, there are many counterarguments one could make based on the content of today's column. However, I would not waste my time lest she cover her ears and sing lalalala like a five year old.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Mariette Danilo, Ph.D.
Thu Jan 28, 2010 5:44 AM
Susan Estrich's, Jan. 28th column
In Casablanca Captain Renault said: I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on .
Yes Focus on the Family is getting attention and will get more by running an ad that is deceptive and ultimately cruel. Shocking! Focus on the Family being deceptive and cruel. I am delighted that you caught on and I hope more people do. There whole web site is deceptive and cruel. Their mission statement says; “We want to inform, inspire and rally those who care deeply about the family to greater involvement in the moral, cultural and political issues that threaten our nation.” In cruel and deceptive newspaper articles, radio, and television ads, across the County they oppose the civil rights of all LGBT citizens. Our Civil right to marry, to adopt, not to be denied jobs and housing even to have proper medical treatment for intersex conditions are called a threat to our nation in there ads .
Comment: #2
Posted by: janice Josephine carney
Thu Jan 28, 2010 8:03 AM
Ms Estrich
I am afraid it is you who is missing the point of the commercial. The point is that we have no idea what God has in store for our children. Its not that Mr Tebow won the Heisman Trophey that is so wonderful. It is his Love and Dedication for God and the fact that he is a true Role Model for our children. Mr Tebow makes it acceptable to serve God. When someone terminates a pregnancy, they are saying that they know more than God. How many children in this world are here because someone could not go through with an abortion. Just because someone may be born with a birth defect does not mean that if we know that, the pregnancy should be terminated. All children are precious and can contribute to society as well as anyone. As for teenage pregnancy being on the rise, well who is more to blame than our television networks. We are making stars out of young teenage girls who are pregnant by
sensationalizing this in a reality show about teenage pregnancy. If these people say they are not exploiting children
for a profit , then they are just lying. And furthermore, shame on the parents who agree to have their childrens issues expolited for a dollar. How can this help teenage couples. Our history is lined with great people who came from teenage mothers. Please be responsible with your comments. Thank-You for listening to me and God Bless You
Comment: #3
Posted by: scott
Thu Jan 28, 2010 1:06 PM
How can anyone be so wrong about so much. You can call abortion by any name you want to, it is still murder of the first degree. Taking the life of another human being whether outside the woumb or inside is and always will be murder. Our society has become so numbed to the idea that if I make a mistake, I don't have to pay the consequences and many times it also has difficult results for other people including the unborn. It is conceiveable that people with your mentality someday will also be able to justify the elimination of the elderly because they are a burden to society and of no use to anyone. It will become justifiable in the minds of progressives and liberals simply because they believe it.
Comment: #4
Posted by: Dave Miller
Fri Jan 29, 2010 3:45 PM
Hi Ms. Estrich,

I definitely disagree with you regarding this editorial, but I want to do so in a manner that is not inflammatory, which so often seems to happen because of this topic. In my opinion, this add is just trying to let people know that a human being is what is being discussed when we speak of abortion; I know this is not everyone's viewpoint, but I believe this is the add's intent. And, it is not to say that Tim Tebow is superior or worthy not to be aborted because he is a gifted athlete, but it is to say that a wonderful human being, whomever he/she grows up to be, would be missed if they were aborted. Indeed, maybe that person would grow up to be a normal, everyday citizen-- a hardworker, a mom or dad who cares about his/her kids, a doctor, a musician, a good friend. That is the point, though; everyone should be given that opportunity to live.

And, regarding your comments about this person having a chromosomal problem or them being unwanted because of circumstances (teenage mothers, etc.)-- there are other options out there. I myself have struggled with infertility, and my best friend just adopted 3 children. So many people want children. . . I would ask that people just please give them to someone who so desires a child.

Before I say the next point, I am not sure what chromosomal issues you were specifically talking about, but many children are aborted who simply have chromosomal issues. Dear, dear friends of mine have a down syndrome little boy, and he may be chromosomally disadvantaged (to some), but who are we to say that he doesn't deserve to live or that our version of "quality" of life is more worthy than someone else's? I just spent time with him, and he is a JOY, as are his two chromosomally average brothers. My and their world would be less bright if he were not here.

Lastly, I wish we could go to coffee. I am sure we could find much to agree on, and I wish we weren't limited by cyberworld for interaction, for though we might still disagree at the end of our conversation, we could at least hear one another civilly and seek to understand with our eyes and souls. I do hope we would be challenged not to write off the other as heartless or ignorant as people so often do.

Sincerely, Amy
Comment: #5
Posted by: Amy
Thu Feb 4, 2010 2:28 PM
Two punches below the belt:
As a person born with a birth defect (partial androgen insensitivity - intersex condition) and also infertile, it's unbelievable that anyone would contemplate abortion. I will never have the opportunity to genetically create a child with my wife. My wife, because of her sacrifice to me, will remain barren. Thankfully, there are women who chose not to terminate and allow the child to live. Those children are the miracles God provides for couples like us.
And for the most part, and there are exceptions I'm sure, pro-choice advocates are hardly pro-choice. It has become an issue of politics and (for the most part) really less about the people involved. Same goes for fundamentalist, over the top conservative christians who lack love and understanding as Christ showed.
Comment: #6
Posted by: AW
Thu Sep 23, 2010 12:19 AM
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