The XX Factor

The Anti-Choice Super Bowl Ad Is Not the End of the World

My Twitter feed is burning up with feminist pro-choice pleas to sign a petition to make CBS pull the pro-life ad they’ve agreed to run during the Super Bowl. For those not aware of the controversy, the spot, sponsored by the Christian group Focus on the Family, features Pam Tebow talking about how doctors suggested she abort her fifth child because she became ill while she was pregnant on a missionary trip to the Philippines. Spoiler alert! She kept the kid, and he turned out to be mega-college-football star and Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow.

I won’t be signing the petition, even though I am pro-choice. It’s not against FCC regulations for CBS to air the ad , and they’ve already said that they’re not budging on the issue . I find it hard to believe that a 30-second TV spot is going to change someone’s worldview, and the petition to get it yanked feels dangerously close to censorship. If pro-choicers believe this is such an important battleground, they should put their energy toward funding their own ad, rather than attempting to silence Focus on the Family (though that would be a phenomenal waste of money, just as the pro-life ad is). As far as I’m aware, commercials-even ones during the biggest sporting event of the year-do not have much sway over public policy.

Update: I was remiss in not mentioning that CBS has rejected commercials by groups with more liberal viewpoints in the past, which several readers brought to my attention. I still do not think the ad will sway viewers to be pro-life, but I do think it is clearly unfair.