Planned Parenthood's Super Bowl Strategy

What Women Really Think
Feb. 3 2010 3:49 PM

Planned Parenthood's Super Bowl Strategy

Last Sunday, Frances Kissling and Kate Michelman broke ranks with the feminists who have been denouncing CBS for running Tim Tebow's TV ad during the Super Bowl. Read their op-ed in the Washington Post . It's a fascinating history of canny, well-crafted advertising by pro-life groups, and Kissling and Michelman argue that the pro-choice movement has often lagged in response. Tebow's ad, of course, celebrates his mother's decision to give birth to him despite a placental abruption, a premature separation of the placenta from the uterine wall that can be life-threatening for the mother and is often associated with stillbirth. Will Saletan has expertly explained how lucky the Tebows were; Kissling and Michelman's goal is different. They see no use in berating CBS for accepting the ad-as Jess has pointed out, that smacks of censorship . Instead, as the former president of Catholics for Choice and the former president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, respectively, they can see that the Tebow ad is celebrating one kind of choice, and that pro-choice groups should remind us about why women should be free to make other choices as well. They want a Super Bowl ad of their own, and here's what they dream up:

We'd go with a 30-second spot, too. The camera focuses on one woman after another, posed in the situations of daily life: rushing out the door in the morning for work, flipping through a magazine, washing dishes, teaching a class of sixth-graders, wheeling a baby stroller. Each woman looks calmly into the camera and describes her different and successful choice: having a baby and giving it up for adoption, having an abortion, having a baby and raising it lovingly. Each one being clear that making choices isn't easy, but that life without tough choices doesn't exist.

Planned Parenthood took their advice and posted this ad today on YouTube. It goes for different characters than Kissling and Michelman's, but it's in the same spirit. What do you think-does the ad work? What 30-second spot would you put together to bring to life the benefits of legal abortion? Send your entries to or, better yet, post them in the comments.

Emily Bazelon was a Slate senior editor from 2005 to 2014. She is the author of Sticks and Stones.


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