Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Pro-Life Super Bowl Ad Controversy Heats Up

CBS is facing pressure from pro-abortion groups to scrap the pro-life advertisement Focus on the Family plans to run featuring Tim Tebow. He is the University of Florida football star whose mother chose life over abortion despite a debilitating medical condition during her pregnancy with Tebow.

Focus on the Family has produced an ad it plans to air during the Super Bowl and, although it won't confirm the content prior to its airing, the ad could feature the story of how Tebow's mom refused an abortion.

However, a coalition of pro-abortion groups called on CBS on Monday to reject the ad.

The New York-based Women's Media Center is coordinating the attack on the ad along with the pro-abortion National Organization for Women, the Feminist Majority and other groups

"An ad that uses sports to divide rather than to unite has no place in the biggest national sports event of the year -- an event designed to bring Americans together," Jehmu Greene, president of the Women's Media Center, told AP.

CBS officials told AP they have approved the ad for airing and that they would block and issue-oriented ad not "appropriate for air."

In an interview with reporters on Sunday, Tebow defended the ad.

"I know some people won't agree with it, but I think they can at least respect that I stand up for what I believe," Tebow said. "I've always been very convicted of it (his views on abortion) because that's the reason I'm here, because my mom was a very courageous woman. So any way that I could help, I would do it."

Gary Schneeberger, a spokesman for Focus on the Family, told AP that officials with the pro-life group "were a little surprised" by the opposition to the life-affirming ad.

"There's nothing political and controversial about it," he said. "When the day arrives, and you sit down to watch the game on TV, those who oppose it will be quite surprised at what the ad is all about."

The Super Bowl ad would be costly -- as a spot during the game and three 30-second commercials before it would reportedly run about $2-3 million -- but provides a unique exposure to a large national and international audience.

The pro-life group confirmed earlier this month that it will air a 30-second ad both right before and during the Super Bowl. Schneeberger would not divulge the content but said Tebow agreed to appear in the ad because he feels strongly about his pro-life convictions.

Schneeberger said the money for the ad campaign from donors who made special gifts to the pro-life group about and beyond their typical donations.

"Every cent for this ad was paid for by generous donors who specifically gave for this project because they are excited about this opportunity for Focus to show who we are and what we do," Schneeberger said.

The ad could feature the story of Tebow's birth.

Pam Tebow and her husband were Christian missionaries in the Philippines in 1985 and they prayed for "Timmy" before she became pregnant.

Unfortunately, Pam entered into a coma after she contracted amoebic dysentery, an infection of the intestine caused by a parasite found in a contaminated food or drink. The treatment for the medical condition would require strong medications that doctors told Pam had caused irreversible damage to Tim -- so they advised her to have an abortion.

Tebow refused the abortion and cited her Christian faith as the reason for her hope that her son would be born without the devastating disabilities physicians predicted. She ultimately spent the last two months of her pregnancy in bed and, eventually, gave birth to a health baby boy in August 1987.

Tim Tebow would win the Heisman in 2007 and then lead the Florida Gators football team to the national championship a year later and he is likely a top draft pick for 2010.

Whether CBS would allow the potential Focus pro-life ad to air was a question when news of the ad first came up earlier this month.

Last year, NBC rejected a television commercial the pro-life Catholic group Fidelis and its CatholicVote web site hoped to run.

The ad showed a beautiful picture of an unborn child during an ultrasound and asks what would happen if President Barack Obama had been a victim of abortion.

After several days of negotiations, an NBC representative in Chicago told the group that NBC and the NFL are not interested in advertisements involving "political advocacy or issues."

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