As Joe Jervis points out, we’ve been hearing the propaganda for weeks now about how Tim Tebow’s mother was confronted with a difficult pregnancy, encouraged to have an abortion, and made the heroic and courageous choice to carry the pregnancy to term, so that her son Tim would one day sport Bible verses in his eyeblack and have a really hard time at NFL tryouts. As you all know, the propaganda has become even fiercer as Focus on the Family has spent $2.5 million on an anti-choice ad to be aired during the Super Bowl featuring Tebow’s story.
Yeah, well, Gloria Allred begs to differ:
In her exclusive interview with RadarOnline.com Allred slams the ad and CBS’s decision to air it, pointing out factual inconsistencies with Pam’s story. One glaring one is the fact that the act of abortion is totally illegal in the majority Catholic country of the Philippines – under all circumstances including rape and incest, and even without a provision in the circumstance that the mother’s life is in danger. The law has been in effect since 1930.
Allred says she believes it an impossible scenario to believe that [Filipino] doctors would [have] ever suggested abortion as a viable option for Tebow in the first place. And when you learn that physicians and midwives who perform abortions in the Philippines face six years in prison, and may have their licenses suspended or revoked, and that women who receive abortions – no matter the reason – may be punished with imprisonment for two to six years, it’s easy to see why.
Oh boy! You see, Ms. Tebow is being hailed as a hero for “choosing life.” Let’s get something out of the way before we move on. When Focus on the Family and other anti-choice groups raise women like Sarah Palin, like Pam Tebow, onto pedestals for “choosing life,” they are ceding the pro-choice argument, that women should be the ones to decide what to do with their bodies. They don’t realize it, and it’s not pointed out nearly enough, but they’re arguing by pro-choice parameters. In the dreams of anti-choice conservatives, in a fantasy-land where Roe v. Wade has been overturned, no woman is a hero for making that choice, because under draconian abortion bans, the only choice women have is to abide by the law or to seek reproductive health care through other, possibly unsafe means.* As an American living in the Philippines, Pam Tebow found herself in the same situation. There are no exceptions to Filipino abortion law. According to the Center for Reproductive Rights, abortion in the Philippines is
unsafe, potentially deadly and highly stigmatized. Every year, more than 500,000 women in the country try to terminate their pregnancies. In 2008 alone, criminal abortions resulted in the deaths of at least 1000 women and 90,000 more suffered complications.
So, that was the “choice” Pam Tebow had to make. Jodi Jacobson at RH Reality Check expands on this:
During a bible study class, Pam Tebow related that “during that pregnancy, a Philippine doctor suggested that she abort the fetus because the strong medications she was being treated with for amoebic dysentery, which she had contacted early in the pregnancy, could cause serious disabilities to the fetus.”
Suggested that she abort the pregnancy? Or laid out the various risks that were possible, leaving her to her own judgment and choices? Made a definitive judgment that the fetus would unquestionably be harmed? Or described the risks of the medication necessary to treat the dysentery, including possible risks to the fetus? All of these are very different scenarios than the ones earlier suggested.
So…was Tebow’s doctor ignorant of the law and policy of his or her own country? Or, was the doctor willing to skirt the law for a relatively wealthy (in the context of the extreme poverty in the Philippines) white woman from the United States? Or did the doctor, again, merely lay out the range of options should it be found that the possible risks of a medication or the possible side effects of the medication should she opt to take it?
Pam Tebow is making a name for herself, and presumably a lot of money, as an anti-choice activist. But considering what’s coming to light, simply by analyzing a few names, dates and places in her account, I think it may be fair to say that for her to portray herself as some sort of “hero” is a joke. In fact, Pam Tebow’s own account, when bolstered by the necessary background information, is actually a fairly strong defense for the justice contained in Roe v. Wade. If she had been in the United States, she could have made the very same choice to go through with a risky pregnancy, having weighed her options, and having analyzed the pros and cons of her specific situation. But yet she and Focus on the Family are advocates for taking those rights away from other women!
And if I may be quite frank: women deal with difficult pregnancies all the time. By all accounts, Pam Tebow’s pregnancy was not off the charts when it comes to danger or risk. Women every day deal with more painful, more difficult choices in pregnancy, than what she went through. I don’t mean to negate her experience, but on this day, as the guilty-on-all-counts verdict came down against American terrorist Scott Roeder for his assassination of Dr. George Tiller, who before his death was the foremost American specialist in treating women in ghastly situations that none of us would wish on our worst enemies, it’s important to realize what these anti-choice advocates wish to take away. The testimonials of Tiller’s patients, so many of whose experiences are the true definition of going to hell and back, bear out the reality of what Pam Tebow and Focus on the Family seek to take away from American women. Those testimonials are tough reading. I recommend them, with boxes of tissue handy. And then ask yourself how grotesque it is that a woman like Ms. Tebow is steamrolling all over those very real experiences on her newfound crusade, enabled by the coattails of her teary-eyed football-playing son and the insipid demagogues at Focus on the Family.
Jodi Jacobson concludes her piece with these words:
Each woman is unique; each situation is unique; each woman acting as a moral agent on behalf of herself, and her family, with her medical advisors or whomever she chooses to engage has the right and the need to exercise these choices in the moment in her life such choices are relevant and based on her own “celebration of life.”
And on this the vast majority of Americans agree.
Pam Tebow is no “hero.” She’s simply a woman who may or may not have made a difficult choice. Regardless, things turned out well. And she may be lying. Questions!
For her part, Gloria Allred is threatening to sue CBS if they run the misleading ad:
Allred warns, “If this ad airs and fails to disclose that abortions were illegal at the time Ms. Tebow made her “choice”, then I intend to file a formal complaint of misleading advertising with those federal commissions.”
On a final note Allred says that she hopes that if any of the women that watch the ad are in the position of evaluating their own pregnancy options, that they “get all the facts before you make a decision. Don’t let any other person influence you. You are going to live with the consequences of that choice for the rest of your life. Make sure it’s your choice and you feel confident you can live with that choice for the rest of your life.”
We’ll be watching closely to see what CBS does, now that this new information is seeing sunlight.
*Including those women who end up having to choose to terminate a wanted pregnancy due to threats to their health or their very lives. And we do know, through years of research, that abortion bans don’t reduce abortion rates anyway. They simply make abortion more dangerous, healthcare worse, etc.