The Tim Tebow “Focus on the Family” Commercial

On Friday’s show, I offered my opinion on what has become the most talked about commercial to air on Super Bowl Sunday – the Focus on the Family ad featuring Tim Tebow.

The ad has not been seen yet has drawn fire from pro-choice organizations in a classic example of “shoot the messenger and ignore the message.”  To bottom line my opinion I feel that if this ad is done correctly, pro-choice groups should be concerned because it could mark a change in the political discourse and the current image of the pro-life movement.

My opinion is that the pro-life movement has wandered away from its most inherently positive message (life) and turned its focus on demonizing the pro-choice efforts as “abortionists.”  In my view, this makes the most vocal (public) faction of the pro-life movement look whiney, overly politicized and negative.  Case in point was the recent protests by Nebraska Right To Life over Ben Nelson’s “abortion compromise” in the Senate approved health care reform bill.  Nelson virtually assured with his efforts that public funds will not be used to provide abortions.  It was a compromise that was decried by both right and left.  While that doesn’t make it the right idea, it certainly wasn’t going to open the floodgates to more federally funded abortions as pro-life groups insinuate.

Despite what many on both sides argue, abortion is not a black or white issue.  There are many of us who don’t buy into the extremes who lean pro-life, but believe that abortion is potentially necessary in cases of rape, incest or when the health of the mother is at risk.  And when we see pro-lifers with their pictures of aborted fetuses parading in front of Planned Parenthood, it angers us.  Sure, that is exactly what the protesters want us to feel, but the anger usually is focused on the protesters for showing these sensational pictures and not the anger that babies were aborted.

I’m not suggesting that we should bury our heads in the sand and not acknowledge that “abortion on demand” doesn’t exist – what I am saying is that instead of turning every person that has had an abortion or performs an abortion into a murderer, the pro-life movement should be accentuating their strongest message – life.  Rather than accusing every abortion of being done in malice, the strongest efforts should be focused to preventing the pregnancy in the first place.

And that’s where the Tebow/FOTF commercial comes in.

By all indications, the spot is going to focus solely on the story of Tim and his mother and how she forged ahead with her pregnancy despite the facts that her life was potentially at risk.  As any college football fan will tell you, Tebow is alive and very well and the commercial will bring her story, her life and his to the widest possible TV audience in the U.S..  If my assumptions are correct, the spot will also not focus on the “abortionists” or the “abortion holocaust”, but rather on the positive aspects of LIFE and I’ll bet that you will have people who don’t buy into the extremes who will be moved by the ad.  And that should scare the pro-choicers because the pro-choice movement cannot match a story like the Tebows’.

So why not, pro-life movement, move towards the message of the greatness of life.  Move away from the partisan, divisive labels and move towards your strength.  In the 70’s, it was the pro-choice movement that was deemed the most militant.  Today, the pro-life movement has decided to play in that same court and it’s not taking their message forward.

Perhaps the Tebow ad will represent a move in that direction and remind those who believe so strongly in life that it is “life” that is the loudest message that resonates.

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10 Responses to The Tim Tebow “Focus on the Family” Commercial

  1. Jeremy says:

    I like the post John. I’m one of the wacko’s that thinks abortion is a poor choice whatever the situation, but I agree that the movement has been misguided for as long as I can remember. Studies show that the number one factor in a woman’s choice to have an abortion is economics. Spending money on graphic signs and political support hasn’t changed anything. Spending money on helping people out in their rough economic situation to help promote a culture of life seems to me to be the best approach. I hope this ad is the beginning of that happening. Love the show. Thanks for the post.

  2. jackm1400 says:

    I had an emailer who wasn’t too happy with John’s comments give her a piece of my mind today, which she’s welcome to do. I thought I’d post my response, as it kind of sets out my position on this question and the criticism we received today:

    For my part, I believe abortion, in most cases, is morally wrong, and it is imperative to strive to eliminate it. I think it’s worth having a conversation on the best way to do attain that goal, and it drives me nuts that the act of initiating that conversation, if it’s at all critical of the movement’s methods is considered some sort of heresy.

    As for the protesting stuff, while I wouldn’t have said those things on the air because I know what the backlash would be (and it was, we’ve had multiple people say they’ll never listen to us again), I think he and I are on the same page on that particular issue. The reason? If you’re trying to convince someone of something, there are effective and ineffective ways of going about doing that task. I’d argue that the protesters on South Street, the ‘fetus trucks’, and the marketing that paints the pro-choice side as lunatics is at best, ineffective, and at worst, incredibly damaging to the pro-life goals. I understand that many disagree with that contention. I welcome discussion on that issue.

    I don’t think what the protesters et al. are doing is morally wrong or makes them bad people, but I think it’s working against their overall goal. Perhaps they’d argue that it’s got a dissuasive effect on people seeking abortions. That may be true, but I think the benefit provided by that one-time dissuasion is outweighed by the animosity those strategies engender in populations key to the success of the movement.

    Certainly, I think reasonable people can disagree on the effectiveness of this message, and there is probably anecdotal evidence that would support the effectiveness of a more in-your-face strategy, but in my life I’ve become very close with people on all sides of this particular issue, including many who might be considered at least somewhat undecided, and I feel pretty strongly that most of the methods currently used to ‘market’ the pro-life cause alienate people that don’t have to be alienated, and there isn’t an equal benefit that balances that alienation. That’s why we took a moment to give kudos to focus on the family, as we do think this effort a potentially very effective one.

    In the end, our discussion was about the effectiveness of ‘marketing’ done by pro-life groups through various methods, and while I’m sure a lot of folks on that side of the argument were angered with John’s distaste for the South Street protests and other methods, the fact that those methods do rub a lot of the more malleable/centrist people in this debate the wrong way should be of great interest to those who have pro-life goals. Unfortunately, we’ve got several listeners who only want to hear the part that they consider incendiary, yell at us, and become righteously appalled, while absolutely ignoring the larger, incredibly relevant question up for discussion.

  3. HuskEric says:

    I work in the Mental Health field here in Lincoln and I deal with children of horrible parents. The results are disastrous. Now I am mostly pro-life. But sometimes when you see the quality of life of these children, children whose parent(s) often seriously considered abortion it really makes you wonder if they are ACTUALLY better off! It’s a HORRIBLE thought I know, but it is the reality. The system that is supposed to help parents that shouldn’t be parents, is broken and not getting fixed anytime soon.

    The most powerful pro-life message in my mind? Show us that you are putting serious effort to extend your “pro-life” views past the womb. To me “pro-life” includes emotional well being, physical well being, etc. Much more than simply having a heart that beats! Sure many people are pro-life when we’re talking about a fetus, but what about when they are 7, or 13, or 16? What then? Will you be willing to be pro-life then?

  4. Julie Schmit-Albin says:

    Jack and John, This blog post came up on a Google News alert so I missed the program in question. It appears the pro-life movement has some myth-busting to do. Two items that caught my attention: your statement that Nelson’s abortion language wasn’t all that bad. Guys, not on national pro-life lobbying entity believes that. Don’t our national lobbyists have any credibility? They live and breathe abortion legislation and case law. It’s what they do. To suggest last minute, never vetted language by Nelson cuts the mustard is justnot accurate. The other point: I will send you the contact info for the sidewalk counselors present at the PP South St. Facility. Please consider having them on your show. They are there in a peaceful, loving manner offering hope and help. They are not rude or nasty. Please get the real story on these dedicated folks who stand all day waiting for girls to come out so they can offer them free post-abortive counseling materials as so many suffer greatly folloWing their abortions. Thanks

  5. JoniB908 says:

    Listening to this commentary was agonizing. I didn’t know where in the heck you were getting your information. I thought that your comments were just plain idiotic.

    Abortion IS a black and white issue, don’t you get it. It is either right or wrong. What you don’t get is that abortion as birth control is different than a medical procedure to save a woman’s life. Abortion as birth control IS either right, or wrong, how can it be both, or neither. That is a flawed argument.

    “But something happened to Nathanson – something profound. Just as it happened to countless other abortionists, abortion-clinic owners and staffers. Just as it happened to Norma McCorvey – the real name for “Jane Roe,” the plaintiff in the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade abortion decision.

    These pioneers of the abortion-rights movement have all arrived at the same conclusion – that abortion is the unjust killing of a human baby – and have come over to the other side of the raging abortion war.”
    http://www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=30098

    I don’t see the anger and hatred that you are talking about when I see the pro-life people. I see anger and hatred when I see the “pro-choice” people.The industry is motivated by greed. Abortion is a BILLION dollar a year BUSINESS!

    You need to be better informed before tackling such a sensitive issue. YOU SOUNDDED ANGRY… at what? All I could think was.. what a moron.

  6. JoniB908 says:

    HuskEric:

    That is a ridiculous statement. Are you suggesting that these 7, 13, or 16 year olds should be exterminated, and that “pro-life” people would not protest?
    Do you honestly beleive that two wrongs can EVER make a right?
    There are plenty of people who came out of “horrible situations” at home and made positive contributions to society.
    It makes me ill to think that you are looking at these troubled children and thinking to yourself that they would be better off dead.

  7. jackm1400 says:

    Julie: I’ll let john respond regarding the Nelson language. That wasn’t my comment. I did live right off 33rd and South so passed that spot every day. I assume you read my explanation above in the comments, which goes largely to your comments. I don’t believe these to bad people, but over the years, I saw plenty of signs there that I wouldn’t have labeled “peaceful” or “hopeful”. They may have had a dissuasive effect on women entering that clinic for abortions, but my theory is their presence (and maybe they’re not the best example, but similar efforts) have a weightier negative effect on the movement as there are plenty of people, including me, who, right or wrong, have significantly negative connotations with those activities. I understand you may disagree, but sometimes I think there may be some value in listening to those who aren’t a part of the core movement, realizing what the most malleable populations believe. As someone who wants to see abortion ended, I get very frustrated with the pro-life movement’s alienation of everyone who isn’t lock, stock and barrel bought into everything that is the most vocal party of the pro-life movement.

    Frankly, the response to John’s comments and my emails have, in part, validated this position. Virtually every call from people who are strongly pro-life and are nowhere near ever changing their mind, are pretty aggressive in their criticism, much like Joni and others. We also had a significant amount of people who are much closer to the traditional pro-life position than the pro-choice position, but for whatever reason, they’re unsure about certain situations, perhaps a little more moderate, and they’ve thanked us for the comments. I would guess most of your “convincing efforts” are targeted toward those types of people, and I think a lot of them feel this way. IF you don’t want to believe it, that’s fine, I’m simply offering an observation from my own experience and that of people similarly situated.

    JoniB if you can’t see anger in parts (not all) of the pro-life movement, we’re seeing different things. I’m sure you’re not one of those people are malleable, could have your mind changed, so it’s not surprising. Your reaction is in line with people in that position. John (and I) get mad/frustrated, whatever, because we want to see abortions ended, but we think the PR for the effort has largely been botched. I note that you disagree. I think the nuts and bolts of that make up a discussion worth having anmd would be very interesting, but so many people that are very strong in their pro-life beliefs get so upset when we criticize anything about the movement, that it’s almsot impossible to have that discussion.

    I know your biggest beef was the black/white statement. I’m not sure I’ll align myself with that one. It’s too ambiguous.

  8. jonib908 says:

    jackM1400:

    I am not angry that you criticized the pro-life movement, I am angry because I feel that you have mis-characterized people like me, (which you did again in your reply above). Your comments were insulting, can’t you understand that? I do not like to be paited as an “angry” person simply because I feel strongly about a vital issue.
    Personally, I see nothing wrong with protesting outside of an abortion clinic, as long as it is lawful and peaceful. I admire people who are willing to put their money where their mouths are.

    As far as the black/white statement, you are the one that asserted that comment. I understood what you were saying, but I still believe that that statement is flawed. I consider abortion to save a woman’s life a whole different issue, I consider that, as I said, a medical procedure. The two should not be combined (that is my opinion)
    I tend to believe that the anger in the pro-life “movement” (as you put it) is more frustration at the lies and distorsions that the abortion “industry” perpetuates. I guess that I really do not understand how anyone could not see that we are human from the moment that we are conceived. To me it is terrifying to think that we as a society could think that it is ok to destroy human life, as long as it is unwanted, unloved, or inconvenient. To me there is potential in EVERY human being.

    I admire you for speaking your mind, but it would have been nice if there was a counterpoint to your point. You should have known

  9. jonib908 says:

    that the listeners to this radio station were predominately conservative, and therefore pro-life, and you would insult them by calling them “angry”. The pro-life people that I know are loving and comapssionate.

    Thanks

  10. Julie Schmit-Albin says:

    Jack, I meant to get back to this earlier. I can understand that folks from the outside looking in on the pro-life movement can see all manner of things that makes you wonder whether we have a cohesive PR strategy. The simple response would be that the pro-life movement is made up of a myriad number of big and small groups, which employ differing methods according to what they perceive to be the most urgent need(s). Not sure how many people may have signs of the aborted baby pics outside South St. anymore. I know at one time some folks from Omaha were showing up there. However I do know that the sidewalk counselors under the auspices of Lincoln Right to Life are making a yeoman’s effort at peaceful, legal discourse. They even have a Code of Conduct which they pass out. But again, I hope you guys will consider having some of them on your show and I will get you those contact numbers. I can actually have a civil conversation on the radio myself if you are so inclined. Thanks, Julie

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