Sally Jenkins, a pro-choice columnist for the Washington Post, writes a devastating essay today on the reaction from her side of the abortion issue to the Super Bowl ad featuring Tim Tebow that celebrates choosing life. Jenkins says she couldn’t disagree more with Tebow on the issue of abortion, but cannot believe the kind of knee-jerk overreaction coming from NOW, which Jenkins presumes refers to “National Organization for Women Who Only Think Like Us.” Jenkins says the overwrought reaction exposes the intolerance of the supposedly tolerant Left and shows that so-called “pro-choice” groups are really more pro-abortion:
I’m pro-choice, and Tebow clearly is not. But based on what I’ve heard in the past week, I’ll take his side against the group-think, elitism and condescension of the “National Organization of Fewer and Fewer Women All The Time.” For one thing, Tebow seems smarter than they do.
Tebow’s 30-second ad hasn’t even run yet, but it already has provoked “The National Organization for Women Who Only Think Like Us” to reveal something important about themselves: They aren’t actually “pro-choice” so much as they are pro-abortion. Pam Tebow has a genuine pro-choice story to tell. She got pregnant in 1987, post-Roe v. Wade, and while on a Christian mission in the Philippines, she contracted a tropical ailment. Doctors advised her the pregnancy could be dangerous, but she exercised her freedom of choice and now, 20-some years later, the outcome of that choice is her beauteous Heisman Trophy winner son, a chaste, proselytizing evangelical.
Pam Tebow and her son feel good enough about that choice to want to tell people about it. Only, NOW says they shouldn’t be allowed to. Apparently NOW feels this commercial is an inappropriate message for America to see for 30 seconds, but women in bikini selling beer is the right one. I would like to meet the genius at NOW who made that decision. On second thought, no, I wouldn’t.
As for those who say the Super Bowl is no forum for personal perspectives on life, Jenkins offers a particularly compelling counterargument:
His critics find this intrusive, and say the Super Bowl is no place for an argument of this nature. “Pull the ad,” NOW President Terry O’Neill said. “Let’s focus on the game.”
Trouble is, you can’t focus on the game without focusing on the individuals who play it — and that is the genius of Tebow’s ad. The Super Bowl is not some reality-free escape zone. Tebow himself is an inescapable fact: Abortion doesn’t just involve serious issues of life, but of potential lives, Heisman trophy winners, scientists, doctors, artists, inventors, Little Leaguers — who would never come to be if their birth mothers had not wrestled with the stakes and chosen to carry those lives to term. And their stories are every bit as real and valid as the stories preferred by NOW.
Shouldn’t tolerance include hearing opposing viewpoints, or at least allowing them to be aired in public forums? After all, tolerance means putting up with something, not agreeing with it. If the only ideas we allowed to air publicly were those that had almost-total consensus, that’s not tolerance but political correctness — a rhetorical straitjacket that goes against the very idea of free speech.
When groups like NOW want to silence people like the Tebows, they’re doing so to protect their own turf. The ad asks people to choose life, not to ban abortion. If NOW really was pro-choice, they’d see nothing invalid about showing the end result of one choice and the faith that carried the Tebows from that terrifying diagnosis to the pinnacle of athletic and scholarly success. Tebow represents hope in the midst of hopelessness. NOW doesn’t want people to have hope; they want women to buy abortions, and this ugly response has made that crystal clear.