What Tim Tebow's Super Bowl Ad Means to Me

What Women Really Think
Feb. 4 2010 10:45 AM

What Tim Tebow's Super Bowl Ad Means to Me

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Rachael Larimore Rachael Larimore

Rachael Larimore is Slate's managing editor.

Emily , I read the Washington Post op-ed by Frances Kissling and Kate Michelman and appreciate its careful and reasoned tone. I admit that if the shoe were on the other foot and CBS were airing a pro-choice ad during the Super Bowl, I’d probably be a little grumpy. I hope I would measure my response as they have theirs.

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I have to admit, though, that my stomach flips a bit when they talk about abortion as a "successful choice." Allow me to explain. The other day our colleague Will Saletan, whose writings on abortion I greatly admire and share with my pro-life friends, wrote a piece on the Tebow ad called " The Invisible Dead " about Tebow’s mother and the dangers of carrying a pregnancy after being diagnosed with placental abruption. While it was a typically excellent Saletan piece, it was the headline that grabbed me, and not for any reason that Will likely intended.

When I think of the "invisible dead," I think of all the children who are aborted every day, every month, every year. The Tebow ad, at least how I imagine it, hits on what makes me pro-life. It’s the amazing human potential that is wasted when children are conceived but not given a chance at life. Pro-lifers and Operation Rescuers can wave all the posters they want of images of babies in utero. They’re no doubt powerful, but the images are still somewhat abstract and generic, unknowable. But there right in your face, for all the world to see is Tim Tebow, Heisman Trophy winner and national champion quarterback. He is, however you feel about his politics or religion, an exceptional person, someone who is making the most of his potential.

On the other hand, Tebow isn’t necessarily the best example of someone who might have been aborted. He was born to two loving parents who desperately wanted him and was surrounded by older siblings who probably doted on him. There are millions of others out there who, likewise, could have been aborted but weren’t. There are millions who were born into less than ideal circumstances, but through their parents’ sacrifices and hard work, persevered. And maybe we’re not Heisman Trophy winners. But we’re loving parents or successful businesswomen or teachers or doctors.

You asked for ideas for a 30-second spot to "bring to light the benefits of legal abortion." I have to respectfully refrain. But I can come with a 30-second spot that can make the pro-life case perhaps as well as Tim Tebow. All we need is the same script that Kissling and Michelman cited: women (and men, too, in this case) "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." Only instead of hearing about their "successful choice" of abortion, they simply look at the camera and say. "My mom chose life."

Photograph of Tim Tebow by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images.

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