Tim Tebow’s abortion stance cannot fit all

Zach Davis

The other day espn.com ran an article about a pro-life commercial starring Tim Tebow. Tebow, for those not conversant in Division I college football, is a multi-talented quarterback who played for the University of Florida the past four years. He and his mother are starring in a commercial that will air during the Super Bowl.
The commercial tells the story of Tebow’s birth. While on a mission in the Philippines, Tebow’s mother, pregnant for the fifth time, became sick. Doctors advised her to abort. She didn’t, and the child she had grew up to win a Heisman and lead Florida to a national championship.
The implicit argument isn’t hard to figure out: Abortion should be illegal because every fetus has the potential to be great. This argument certainly drips with pathos, which is why I think it gets trotted out so much. It’s hard to refute without sounding like a heel. That’s a shame, because it has no place in the abortion debate.
As a pro-life argument, the commercial is at best misguided. It seems to imply that women are machines to pop out greatness. Mrs. Tebow had Tim against medical advice – which is her right – but she potentially put both her life and Tim’s in danger, and I worry other pregnant women faced with serious medical issues might endanger themselves on the off-chance their fetus is the next Babe Ruth.
The commercial also seems to suggest, however inadvertently, that only great fetuses are worth saving. Ask yourself: would this commercial have been made if Tim Tebow was a drug-addicted high school dropout?
The commercial limits the pro-life argument, to my mind. I want to hear, “don’t abort, because all life is valuable,” but instead, I’m hearing, “don’t abort – even if it’s medically justified, even if you’re inclined to do it – because you might get Tim Tebow. And if you don’t . oh well.”
This commercial also worries me because it implies one person’s decision should influence legal decisions that affect everyone. What is true of Mrs. Tebow is not and cannot be true of everyone. Mrs. Tebow should have the freedom to choose to have her child, of course.
But not all women are in her situation, and it’s a grave injustice to assume they are. Mrs. Tebow’s successful pregnancy doesn’t mean that other women in tricky situations – those who face high-risk births, or carry the product of a rape, or live in dire financial straits, for example – shouldn’t get to choose for themselves what is best for them.
I love that America is generally tolerant of a variety of beliefs and allows people to live according to those different sets of beliefs. Irespect the pro-life position on abortion and happily support their right to believe whatever they want about fetuses and the beginning of life. What I can’t respect is the expectation that everyone in this country live by their rules.
Abortion is a legal medical procedure, and Mrs. Tebow’s successful pregnancy is not a good enough reason to deny abortion to those who need it and are willing to accept its consequences. It is healthy to debate the pros and cons of abortion, but the Tebows’ situation has no place in that discussion.