Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow’s Super Bowl debut—in a commercial rather than the game—is striking up a controversy that may in the end do more good than harm. And Tim Tebow deserves credit for using his fame to provoke thought on this truly consequential issue, at a time when athletic superstars are better known for extramarital affairs or brandishing weapons in the locker room.
The ad recounts his mother’s decision to ignore the advice of doctors and proceed with Tim’s birth. It is a celebration of her choice and the life it brought into the world. It is of course funded by a group opposed to abortion, Focus on the Family, whose agenda is the real target of angry critics’ ire.
But the Tebow ad is more powerful and trickier to attack than abortion rights activists might realize. It really is a celebration of life and choice. It does not focus on the public policy or legal merits of the alternative doctors advised Tim’s mother to pursue. Thus the ad fits squarely, and comfortably, with the values of the vast majority of Americans, which is in fact why critics see it as a threat.
The truth is that abortion advocates cannot attack this ad and be pro-choice. In doing so they purvey an extreme, unpopular, and immoral position—to protect and celebrate only one choice, abortion, while attempting to stifle celebration of the alternative, life.
No one should minimize the painful and diverse circumstances that bring some women to the point of having to decide whether to proceed with a pregnancy. And, of course, most of those choices will not result in a religiously devout Heisman Trophy winner. But as hard as these decisions are, Tim Tebow’s story is an appropriate testament to the potential blessings of choosing life and the potential lost with abortion.
For decades luminaries of the Left have asserted the notion that a majority of Americans are pro-choice and threatened by a radical religious minority who seeks to impose its values on the majority. The power of this ad is that a majority of Americans will identify with its message and see its pro-abortion critics as seeking to impose their minority values on the pro-life majority.
The beauty of a Super Bowl ad is that its response can reveal key trends in consumer preferences. My bet is that in 2010, American political consumers are trending towards Tebow.
Stephen J. Yates served as deputy assistant to Vice President Cheney from 2001 to 2005 and currently is president of DC Asia Advisory.