Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Duly noted

William Saletan over at Slate argues that Tim Tebow's Pro-life ad about to appear on the Super Bowl this Sunday sends the wrong message about the kind of complication Tim's mother went through:

Pam's story certainly is moving. But as a guide to making abortion decisions, it's misleading. Doctors are right to worry about continuing pregnancies like hers. Placental abruption has killed thousands of women and fetuses. No doubt some of these women trusted in God and said no to abortion, as she did. But they didn't end up with Heisman-winning sons. They ended up dead.

Being dead is just the first problem with dying in pregnancy. Another problem is that the fetus you were trying to save dies with you. A third problem is that your existing kids lose their mother. A fourth problem is that if you had aborted the pregnancy, you might have gotten pregnant again and brought a new baby into the world, but now you can't. And now the Tebows have exposed a fifth problem: You can't make a TV ad.

Though I consider myself a solid pro-life, I have to agree with Saletan's analysis. I don't think it's being wishy-washy to consider the life of the mother a valid exception for having an abortion.

I do recall weeks ago when a friend forwarded me the story about Tim Tebow's ad, and how it might potentially air on the Super Bowl. At the time, I thought nothing of it, except that 1) it probably wouldn't air (oh me of little faith) and 2) it doesn't really do much for our cause, anyway, since that kind of exceptional case isn't the kind of case we need to be talking about.

And that's the fact of the matter. Tim Tebow's story is inspiring, and it has gotten people's attention because of the very public stage on which it is being told. But that's where its usefulness for the pro-life movement ends. As a pro-lifer, I don't seriously want to argue that every woman must act just like Pam Tebow and risk her own life for the sake of her baby.

The thing is that most abortions simply aren't about saving the life of the mother. As you can easily read for yourself in studies like this one at the Alan Guttmacher Institute (which is basically an arm of Planned Parenthood) no more than 15% of abortions have anything at all to do with the health of the mother; I imagine actually saving the life of the mother represents a much smaller figure than that.

In other words, we have a real moral problem on our hands. I don't think we need to go convincing women that they all have to be super-woman and willingly risk their lives for the sake of childbearing. That's not what being pro-life is about.

I'm sure the ad on Sunday won't overtly suggest that all women need to be superheroes. Nevertheless, if you hold that Tebow's story is instructive for all women, you're kind of pushing the pro-life case a bit far.

Saletan correctly points out the reason for an ad like Tebow's:

Pro-lifers have always struggled with the invisibility of unborn life: millions of babies aborted every year, concealed in wombs behind closed doors. How do you open the world's eyes to what it can't see? In Tim Tebow, they see the invisible made visible: a child who has lived to tell his story because an abortion didn't happen.

In essence, I suppose Tebow will just have to do. I would be much more comfortable with someone sharing a more instructive story, such as, say, Nick Cannon's. But right now Tebow is in the right place to be seen by a large audience and share an important message.

As you can tell, I'm caught in a bit of a dilemma about what makes the most sense pragmatically. But hey, it's not my $2.5 million to spend. So, I guess I'll just keep adding my voice to the conversation, and see how it all plays out.

In the meantime, have a look at Nick Cannon's video (if you haven't already)!

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