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If “Pro-Choice” is “Pro-Choice,” then Why the Controversy over Tim Tebow’s Ad?

There is no doubt Tim Tebow’s Super Bowl spot for Focus on the Family has stirred up quite the controversy.  The National Organization for Women (NOW) has become a standard bearer in attempts to persuade CBS not to air the ad.  NOW claims to support “reproductive rights,” and a mother’s “right to choose.”  If the feminist group is really about choice, then I don’t understand why they are so opposed to Tebow’s message.  I haven’t seen the ad, but from what I have read this is the basic gist: Tebow’s mother had complications during her pregnancy, and was advised to abort Tim.  Mrs. Tebow chose to carry the child to term.  Mrs. Tebow was blessed with the joys of choosing life, and her son, Tim, went on to become an excellent athlete.  Fade to black.  If NOW is dedicated to promoting a woman’s “right to choose,” then why can’t the group respect Mrs. Tebow’s “right to choose” life?

Of course, if “pro-choice” is actually interpreted by NOW as “pro-abort,” then the group’s reaction to the ad makes perfect sense.  NOW is accusing Focus on the Family of attempting to dis-empower women, and create a climate in which Roe v Wade can be overturned.  The feminist group insists sharing the story of a woman who chose life represents an attempt to make abortion illegal in the United States.  While this reaction affirms the hypothesis that “pro-choice” isn’t really about choice–unless choosing to abort–it also reveals NOW’s complete lack of understanding of United States “abortion law.”

For the sake of argument, let’s assume for a minute the main focus of the Tebow ad is to overturn Roe v Wade, and the campaign is successful.  Let us assume the Supreme Court of the United States were to meet the day after the Super Bowl, and the justices having seen the ad immediately and unanimously overturned the decision.  Far from banning abortion, this decision would simply return sovereignty to the individual states to regulate the medical practice of abortion as they saw fit.  While I have no doubt some states would choose to ban abortion, they would be in the minority.  States choosing to allow unregulated “abortion-on-demand” as currently mandated by the Roe v Wade decision would also be in the minority.  Most states would probably fall in the middle and in line with the consensus of American citizens: abortions should be legal but regulated to the “hard cases” and not treated as birth control.  Furthermore, late term abortions should be heavily restricted with exceptions in cases where there is an immediate, demonstrable, and potentially fatal risk for the mother.

While the consensus position certainly represents a restriction of “abortion rights,” it does not match the apocalyptic scenarios projected by NOW.  In fact, even with these restrictions in place, most states would allow all of the abortion scenarios that pro-choice advocates frequently reference.  If pro-choice actually stood for pro-choice, the abortion debate would be severely muted.  The problem is: groups like NOW are completely unwilling to support any sort of compromise, and actively promote abortion.  Just because abortion is legal doesn’t mean women should be pressured to make that choice.  Why not encourage women to “give life a chance?”  It would certainly lend credibility to the pro-choice movement.  Defending “abortion rights” and promoting life do not have to be mutually exclusive positions.  NOW has simply chosen to make them so.