Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Are Tim Tebow and His Mother Sending the Wrong Message on Abortion?

University of Florida quarterback Tim Tebow and his mother, Pam, will be featured in a 30-second commercial during the Super Bowl in February. The Christian group Focus on the Family is behind the ad, and it is expected to send an anti-abortion message.

Details about the ad are sketchy, but it apparently will chronicle Pam Tebow's 1987 pregnancy. After getting sick during a mission trip to the Philippines, Pam Tebow ignored a recommendation by doctors to have an abortion and gave birth to Tim, the fifth child she'd had with her husband, Bob.

We have to wonder if the Tebows, in their desire to share their faith, are instead sending a dangerous message.

Pam Tebow's difficult pregnancy was covered in a 2007 article titled "Coaching Character," by Suzy A. Richardson of the Gainesville Sun. Writes Richardson:

In 1985, the family moved to the Philippines, where they lived as missionaries, sharing their Christian faith with the island's natives and building a ministry.

"It wasn't always easy, but it was a wonderful time for our family," Pam said. "We learned a lot--you always learn a lot when you visit a Third World country. You grow in appreciation for everything you have."

As the couple reached out to families across the island, they prayed to expand their own.

"We started praying for Timmy by name, and then we got pregnant so we just felt like God had a special plan for him," she said.

The pregnancy, however, was troubled from the outset:

Just before her pregnancy, Pam fell into a coma after contracting amoebic dysentery, a bacteria transmitted through contaminated drinking water. During her recovery, she received a series of strong medications. And even though she discontinued the regimen when she discovered the pregnancy, doctors told Pam the fetus had been damaged.

Doctors later told Pam that her placenta had detached from the uterine wall, a condition known as placental abruption, which can deprive the fetus of oxygen and nutrients. Doctors expected a stillbirth, Pam said, and they encouraged her to terminate the pregnancy.

"They thought I should have an abortion to save my life from the beginning all the way through the seventh month," she recalled.

Pam Tebow said she sustained the pregnancy because of her faith:

"We were grieved," she said. "And so my husband just prayed that if the Lord would give us a son, that he would let us raise him."

In her seventh month of pregnancy, Pam traveled to the country's capital, Manila, where she received around-the-clock care from an American-trained physician.

For the next two months, Pam--steadfastly praying for a healthy child --remained on bed rest.

And on her due date--Aug. 14, 1987--Pam gave birth to Timothy Richard Tebow, who she described as "skinny, but rather long." "We were concerned at first because he was so malnourished, but he definitely made up for it," she said, between laughs. Today Tim, now 20, stands at a solid 6'3" and 235 pounds.

We have a pro-choice stance on abortion rights here at Legal Schnauzer, believing that Roe v. Wade was correctly decided and should remain the law of the land. The Tebow ad apparently does not touch on the political and legal aspects of abortion--at least in an overt way. We have no problem with those who seek to encourage alternatives to abortion. We particularly support those who seek to address the issues that often lead to unwanted pregnancies in the first place.

The Tebow ad, while it has a heart-warming ending, sounds like it will send some dangerous messages. We can think of a couple:

* Ignore your doctors' advice, and everything will turn out OK--The doctors' advice in the Tebow story apparently was based on sound medical judgment. Are the Tebows sending a message of "your faith can override a doctor's opinion that you don't want to hear"? Sounds that way to us.

* The outcome of one pregnancy is more important than the well being of four children you already have--Again, it's hard to ignore the heart-warming aspects of the Tebow story. And it's even more dramatic when Tim grows up to win the Heisman Trophy, lead Florida to national championships, and become a role model and all-around swell guy. But Pam Tebow's decision could have left her four other children without a mother. We are pro choice, and we believe such a choice correctly rested in Pam Tebow's hands. But we suspect the complexities presented by troubled pregnancies will be lost in a 30-second commercial.

And then there is this question: Is it a good idea to pray for a pregnancy while you are on a mission trip in the Philippines? Pregnancies can't always be planned, of course, and they can be difficult even in developed countries. But wouldn't it be wiser to try to get pregnant either before or after you've taken a mission trip to a country with poor sanitation systems and limited medical resources? Is God supposed to always bail us out when we make unwise decisions?

Perhaps the biggest question is this: Thirty-second Super Bowl ads sell for between $2.5 million and $2.8 million. A Focus on the Family spokesman says funds for the ad came from "very generous and committed friends."

Could that money have been better spent? How much might it have helped adoption agencies or foster-care organizations?

Pam Tebow, then a married mother of four, hardly is the typical woman facing a question about abortion; her pregnancy was wanted. But numerous reports indicate that most women who seek or consider abortion are unmarried and facing a pregnancy they did not plan or want.

If we really want to reduce the abortion rate in the United States, addressing the problem of unwanted pregnancy almost certainly is the way to do it.

The Tim Tebow ad apparently will not touch on that at all.


Laura said...

As an Athiest I can put all religon asside so please keep that in mind when reading my post.

Sure they are basing their message off of something entirely fictional but I completely disagree with you. With or without religion as a deciding factor abortion is murder. You should not be allowed to make the choice to end someone else's life, even if your own is in danger. Any parent would risk their life to save their child in a fire or from drowning, what is the difference? Murder is not a woman's choice. Just like a father who's daughter was raped can not make the choice to kill the rapist. Although in this case it might be justified it still shouldn't be allowed and neither should abortion. What about the choice of the baby? 10 years ago infants weren't expected to live if born prior to 30 weeks. 5 years ago they weren't expected to live if born prior to 26 weeks. As medicine progresses the age a baby can survive outside of the womb will become less and less. In another 5 years it might be 20 weeks and in 10 it might be 16 weeks. How can you possibly discount a life. If that child has a brain, a beating heart, it is alive and it is human.

Had her baby been damaged, would it really have been worse than not ever having been born? I highly doubt it. Even children with downs syndrome enjoy life! Even I was born with a disfiguring and painful birth defect. I've gone though many surgeries and had my mother known I was going to be born with it she might have aborted me. But even I can apprecaite the life I have been allowed to live despite it's trials and tribulations.

Once a woman gets pregnant her rights to choice end and the babies right to life begins. There are plenty of stories out there where doctors expected a baby to be born dead or deformed and the doctors were wrong. Medical professionals aren't perfect and I don't see anything wrong with any woman giving her child a chance at life.

I don't think her message is wrong. I think her motivation behind the message is wrong. I also agree with you about her trying to get pregnant while on a mission. It seams to me that if she believe she was doing "Gods work" as they call it, she should have been concentrating on that. I also agree that a third world country wasn't the best place to get pregnant. Lastly I do agree that the money for the add could have been better spent on either a different add that took religion out of the mix therefore speaking to a larger audience and possibly mentioning something about other choices such as contraception and adoption or instead the money could have been spent on foster care, medical research or adoption services.

Still though, although I agree with you on the above points. I completely disagree with you on your stance on abortion. I have to wonder if you are a mother. I can't imagine any mother who's felt the flutters of her child growing inside her (my flutters with my 3rd came at 15 weeks!!!) could every possibly be pro-choice.

HermitTalker said...

Just came on this site checking the facts on the Tim Tebow story. LAURA - thank you for your stand, abortion and conception are MEDICAL facts and not decided by Church Synagogue or Mosque. They simply endorse what NATURE planned and intended. We call that GOD but the facts and truth are the same.