Friday, January 29, 2010

Aborting the Truth

Abortion.

Having just penned an article on abortion for the brilliant Jacques magazine, it's a topic I've been thinking about a lot recently. Soon, much of America will be joining me - as one of the most-watched 30-seconds on television is about to be dedicated to the debate.

Focus on the Family - a seriously laughable right-wing organization dedicated to shoehorning 'Christian' teachings into secular American life - has paid an outrageous fortune to air an anti-abortion commercial during Superbowl XLV. It will be watched by tens of millions (and be a serious downer sandwiched between cheerful ads for beer and pick up trucks!)

The focus of the commercial is Tim Tebow, the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback for the Florida Gators. The commercial will focus on how his mother, living in the Philippines during the 1980s, was pressured to have an abortion which would have 'aborted' this Maxwell-award winning footballer.

The Gainesville Sun explain:
Tim's story begins years before his birth, when his parents, both University of Florida students in the late-1960s, met on campus. In 1985, the family moved to the Philippines, where they lived as missionaries. Just before her pregnancy with Tim Tebow, his mother Pam fell into a coma after contracting amoebic dysentery, a bacteria transmitted through contaminated drinking water. When she discovered the pregnancy, doctors told Pam the fetus had been damaged. They encouraged her to terminate the pregnancy. Full story here.
The 'heartwarming' story, of course, is that Pam refused the abortion because of her strong Christian convictions and at the end of her pregnancy, the result was a beautiful, healthy baby boy who would later be voted 'the nation's most outstanding amateur athlete in any sport.'

The focus of the commercial is on making people consider just what potential each and every aborted baby might have had if the birth had been carried through to term - and Focus of the Family hope that the anti-abortion message will strengthen their movement to have abortion in all forms banned across the United States.

There's one problem with the commercial, however. Many people are claiming that Tim Tebow's story of faith-affirming survival against the odds is bullshit (such as Salon, here.)

When Tim's mother was pregnant, she and her family were living in the Philippines - were abortion has been banned since 1870. Abortions are forbidden under any circumstances, including rape or cases in which the life of the mother is jeopardized.

Doctors and midwives who perform abortions face losing their medical license and being imprisoned for up to six years. Women who have abortions - for whatever reason - can be jailed for up to two years. Abortion is so stigmatized in the Philippines that women seeking aftercare for an illegally-obtained abortion (the only way to terminate a pregnancy in the country) are routinely refused medical treatment and reported to the police.

In short; it's very unlikely that Tim Tebow's mother was actually advised to have an abortion, even if her life was in danger. Even if that was true, her claim that doctors "fought for me to have an abortion from the very beginning, all the way through the seventh month" simply doesn't ring true. Why would doctors repeatedly risk losing their license and being imprisoned in order to pressure an unwilling woman into have a procedure that she didn't want and which was illegal?

Hey, I don't know the facts. I wasn't there. Perhaps an approximation of this story did happen, in some form. However, based on the facts, Tim Tebow's 'heartwarming' story is, at best, an exaggeration and at worst, an outright lie.

And while I've found an awful lot of peace with the Pro-Life movement, I really resent being lied to. I resent millions of dollars being spent on promoting a story that isn't entirely true. I thought we'd put a stop on that after the 2008 Presidential Elections.

I left a comment on the blog of Mike Waters, a very intelligent and articulate Christian who alerted me this story in the first place. It expresses my thoughts on the Tebow commercial - and the abortion debate in general - pretty succinctly:

If Pro-Choice and Pro-Life teamed up and invested all the millions they waste on commercials like this into providing adequate sex education and contraceptives, we’d eliminate the need for abortions within a decade.

But neither side will do that because – quelle surprise – abortion isn’t actually the issue they’re fighting over.

Actually ENDING abortion is less important than scoring cheap political points off each other. The Pro-Life side are trying to enforce religious principles and subjugate women, the Pro-Choice side is trying to enforce population control and engage in social engineering. Abortion is just the cover they use to mask their true agendas.

Both sides disgust me.

22 comments:

Connecticut Yankee said...

"...the Pro-Choice side is trying to enforce population control and engage in social engineering."

What makes you say that? I'm honestly curious.

Roland Hulme said...

Hi Connecticut Yankee! Entirely legitimate question. to a certain extent it's hyperbole, but not as much as you might think.

Margaret Sanger, founder of planned parenthood and one of the staunchest supports of abortion rights, was a eugenicist, plain and simple. Read her essay 'The Pivot of Civilization' and you'll be treated to some lovely snippets, like how one of the problems of modern society was how the 'feeble minded' were allowed to breed.

One of the reasons abortion was made legal in America in the first place was because organizations like the National Academy of Sciences, the American Medical Association, the National Research Council, Planned Parenthood and the Democratic Party supported abortion (and sterilization) to 'purify' the American race - before Hitler came along and 'gave eugenics a bad name' (Hitler ended eugenics in America, which was the biggest practitioner prior to WWII.)

The Pro-Choice movement neatly brushes it's VERY sketchy past under the carpet and hopes nobody notices.

Andy said...

Roland, I am an extreme pro-lifer. I say that unashamedly.

I do not know the events, either. And, it is possible that physicians in the Philippines did advise her to kill the baby...maybe go back to the US for the procedure, etc.

I do not know if she may have been advised by US doctors living there, or native physicians. There is too much that I don't know about this, but it could be true. I have my doubts about it, but I don't think one can fairly say that it's so much "bullshit," as you describe the conclusion of Salon's article.

But, I do know Christian missionaries. And, the ones I know wouldn't entertain the thought of an abortion, regardless.

And, with all respect Roland, I find it interesting when someone that is not involved in any particular "movement" assumes to know what that movement is "really trying to do."

I won't call it laughable, but it is "curious." As a pro-lifer, I don't know very many that want to "enforce religious principles and subjugate women." The pro-lifers I know just sincerely believe that an unborn child is a life that deserves a chance to live. Pure and simple.

Hell, one of my best friends is an atheist, and despises abortion as much as I do. (References available upon request)

And I, as a rational human do not suppose that I can know the true motivation of the pro-choice crowd. In fact, I take them at their word...that most of them honestly believe that their point of view serves women better. Sure, they've got the Sanger Harris types...just as my side has the Theocrats.

But, it's a pretty broad brush to paint with, to say that this is about scoring political points off of each other.

Tim's story could be an exaggeration. It could be an outright lie. Or, it could be totally true. What astounds me about this whole thing is the uproar it has caused on the pro-choice side. It's just an ad, proposing that "life" is a good thing. Why is that so offensive to some?

Come to think of it, maybe I HAVE misjudged the motives of the other side...

Roland Hulme said...

Hi Andy!

I can see I'm probably going to upset people on both sides of the debate with this post.

You're right - there are moderates on both sides - hopefully the majority of people are moderate, even if they fall on one side or other of the debate.

This is a bit of a ranty post and more directed at the loud and vocal people who DO misrepresent their take on the topic - Focus on the Family being a prime example.

Their agenda is more about inserting their rules and belief system into the everyday lives of Americans, rather than actually fighting abortion.

As I said, if Pro-Life and Pro-Choice people REALLY wanted to end abortion, we could do it virtually overnight. Sex education, condoms, even abstinence programs. Both sides would have to make concessions, but the result would be practically eliminating unwanted pregnancies - hence no abortions.

But because they're unwilling to make those concessions, it reveals what's most important to them - and it's clearly NOT ending abortion.

Andy said...

Roland,

I don't think you're going to make anybody upset MUCH! ;) I know you didn't upset me...and I understand the need to rant from time to time.

btw: I ran into your blog from a comment over at MeanOlMeany's place. Paul and I are friends. I have been reading every post since then, but have never commented. You write good stuff. I didn't comment on your post below about health care in the UK, but appreciated the insight. I learned something.

Okay...enough kissy-face... I'll be reading.

Connecticut Yankee said...

I was aware of Margaret Sanger and her views, but I've never heard about the other organizations you mentioned engaging in eugenics programs or similar things (do you have some legit links that talk about this?). If all of this was pre-WWII and Hitler's eugenics programs (abortion didn't become legal in the US until 1973 so I can only imagine you're referring to illegal abortions or clandestine programs)I can't imagine the pro-choice movement of today operates on this outdated, racist agenda. I've never seen any modern evidence that the Pro-Choice side is driven by a desire to prevent certain people from breeding or control the population and I would welcome any legit sources you can provide that would support your statement.

(Full disclosure, I'm pro-choice so you aren't going to sway me, but I'm genuinely curious to see the supporting evidence for statements like these).

Eve said...

"The Pro-Life side are trying to enforce religious principles and subjugate women, the Pro-Choice side is trying to enforce population control and engage in social engineering."

I'm not part of the pro-life movement, so I won't presume to speak for them, other than to say that I think what you're describing fits some of the pro-life movement, but not the whole movement. I don't agree with the pro-life side of things for reasons too long to list here (maybe a blog post), but I think that statement unnecessarily vilifies more people than is accurate. I must say I'm particularly baffled by your comments on the pro-choice side though. From reading the comments I gather that you're referring to sterilization and eugenics, both of which I consider abhorrent. I will not argue against the possibility that those may well have been part of the beginning of the movement to allow abortion. I wasn't there, I can't say. But, I don't see how that has anything to do with what today's pro-choice movement stands for. I believe the argument goes something along the lines that women should be allowed to choose whether or not to carry a pregnancy to term, and that women should have easy access to abortion if that is what they choose. The popular slogan is "my body, my choice." If this were the pro-abortion movement, rather than the pro-choice movement, the idea of "enforcing population control and engaging in social engineering" would make more sense. As it is, the only thing I see being enforced is the right to choose and the right to access (because without access to abortion, there is no option of choice). I suppose that promotes population control inasmuch as it gives women the ability to control their reproduction, but there is nothing being enforced in that regard. There have been forced abortions in China in the name of population control, but that has nothing to do with choice or the pro-choice movement.

Eve said...

"If Pro-Choice and Pro-Life teamed up and invested all the millions they waste on commercials like this into providing adequate sex education and contraceptives, we’d eliminate the need for abortions within a decade."

This part I can mostly agree with. I would very much like to see adequate sex education provided, along with easy access to contraceptives. That is something that I find very important. I do think it would be better if nobody ever needed an abortion because I don't imagine it's an easy situation to be in or an easy decision to make, and I do view unborn babies as being alive (though not as being fully people until formed to the point of being able to survive outside the womb, and not as having rights that overrule the rights of the mother). The part I disagree with is the idea of the need for abortion going away. Even if everyone were to use always use birth control when not planning a pregnancy, sometimes contraceptives fail. Rapes and incest happen (this one is particularly important to me because if my father had continued to sexually abuse me when I reached child-bearing age, I very likely would have needed an abortion despite doing everything in my power not to get pregnant). Sometimes a planned pregnancy threatens the mother's health, or turns out to have defects incompatible with life outside the womb (sadly, this happened to my aunt's first planned pregnancy, and an abortion was medically necessary). When the body doesn't miscarry a fetus that dies, the removal of the already-dead child is medically and legally considered an abortion (the alternative, waiting for the fetus to miscarry, increases the risk of the mother's death significantly with every week that passes). With twins or multiples, it is sometimes necessary to perform selective reduction to prevent the death of both/all fetuses. I very much doubt that all these things will go away, therefore the need for abortion won't go away (for those who would choose abortion in these situations, of course).

This came out longer than I anticipated. So long I had to submit it in two parts! Anyway, just my two cents. I hope I managed to be coherent (it's 1 AM, so who knows).

Coffee Bean said...

Interesting post Roland.

Since I happen to live in the city in which Focus on the Family is located and am painfully aware of the numbers that have been laid off there... I wasn't too happy when I found out about the amount of money spent on this campaign. I have since learned that this add has been paid for through private donations specifically alotted for this purpose.

You know where I stand on abortion so I'm not going to go into that again. I do find it interesting that there is such an uproar over a 30 second add during the Super Bowl. It's a pro-life add... so what? They paid for it. If you want to reach the most amount of people in the shortest amount of time... that seems pretty smart to me. They aren't even selling anything... just trying to make a point that might cause some to pause and think. Why is that so horrible?

I'll tell you this though, the amount of publicity surrounding this is a bonus you couldn't buy with money. You can bet that people will sit up and take note that may have glossed by it in the first place.

Oh... another quick point. Abortion is also a business with big money. I heard a woman speak that used to run an abortion clinic and they had quotas to fill and campaigns to bring in business. It is not simply about a women's right to choose.

Connecticut Yankee said...

Coffee Bean, it's not just the subject of the ad that is making people upset. A few years ago, the United Church of Christ was turned down when they wanted to air an ad about diversity and inclusiveness (and specifically gay and lesbian inclusivness) in their church. So why is it OK for one controversial topic to get airtime and another not to?

Source: 6th graph down in this link: http://www.alternet.org/media/145495/battle_over_superbowl_abortion_ad_rages_on:_is_tim_tebow's_birth_story_even_true

Also, can you tell me more about the speaker you heard who ran an abortion clinic? Was it a Planned Parenthood or another type of clinic that offered only abortions? And no one ever said abortion was free. It's a medical procedure and like every other medical procedure it costs money to preform surgeries and run a clinic. Do you go to the doctor for a broken leg and get seen for free (in the US at least)?

Joanna Cake said...

As someone else said, you're a great writer, Roland!

When it comes to abortion, Im glad I live this side of the pond.

This is an intensely personal decision and no one has the right to force a woman to go through with something that she doesnt want... either way.

Im not against the idea of the advertisement tho - if it gets people talking. But the problem is whether or not anyone else is prepared to listen.

It is such a contentious subject and everyone's views are so deeply entrenched that they don't always address cases individually - which is how it should be done.

Blanket bans never work - on anything. They just lead to underground systems and fatalities.

ck said...

Abortion should be outlawed. Period. 1.2 million is completely unacceptable. Completely. Abortion should not be birth control. There is nothing that should be 'extremely personal' about killing a child.

As I've told you before, if there were just 10,000 abortions a year for life threatening issues... there would not be enough passion to have this debate at all. But abortion is a form of birth control and wrong.

Abortion is about one thing and one thing only. Money. Corporations make a ton of money providing abortions.

Reasonable liberal article..
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/02/01/AR2010020102067.html

Also your rants on Focus on the Family show your ignorance of Focus on the Family. You totally ignore the great benefit the offer society from counseling, to adoptions, to just spiritual support.

You sometimes touch on abortion in a sensible way, this article is not such an occasion.

Andy said...

Hi Roland,

I've been reading the varied opinions. I ran across something you might find interesting. It's a video that was produced in 1989 with NFL players.

Man, I'll bet the "radical" pro-choicers would really lose their junk over this. http://www.faithandfamilylive.com/blog/now_thats_a_pro-life_ad

Eve said...

I suppose we could debate life vs. choice until the cows come home. However, that's not what the problem is with the superbowl ad. Having not seen it (it hasn't been released yet), I can't say how much I agree or disagree with it. If, as seems likely, the ad is based on a bunch of lies, I have a problem with that. I have no problem with Pam Tebow choosing not to have an abortion (the whole point of my viewpoint is CHOICE, including the choice to carry a pregnancy to term, which I respect). And I don't really have a problem with ads that I may disagree with being aired (when they're not full of lies).

The problem with this superbowl ad is that CBS has previously banned advocacy submissions, along with controversial ads. This ad, even if non-controversial as CBS claims, is an advocacy submission, plain and simple. However, they haven't lifted their ban. For example, CBS rejected an ad from the gay dating site ManCrunch as being "not within the Network's broadcast standards for Super Bowl Sunday." They also cited difficulty verifying ManCrunch's credit status, which makes no sense as ManCrunch offered to pay in cash (the company recently raised over ten times the amount of the cost of airing the ad). The picture this paints is that CBS has gone from rejecting all advocacy submissions and controversial ads to rejecting only the ones they disagree with (oh no, gay men!). Something tells me we probably won't see any pro-choice ads during the superbowl.

Andy said...

Eve, I'm going to agree with you, and disagree with you just a bit.

You are right that a debate about abortion is not what this is about. Positions rarely change in such debate (sometimes they do, but not often).

This is about an "advocacy" ad. I tend to believe that if Planned Parenthood, or some other pro-choice advocacy group wanted to advertise that CBS would sell them the spot...as long as the spot was in good taste.

As to the gay dating site...I have a pretty good idea that it was just a business decision. The decision makers probably took the measure of their audience, and said, "nope...we don't need the aggravation...peddle another one to Budweiser, etc."

They are business people with an obligation to their stockholders. That would have likely been a tough sell to make. CBS has no problem promoting pro-choice causes in their newscasts, 60-minutes, entertainment shows, etc. So, I don't think they would reject an ad from some pro-choice group.

Even though it would not bother me personally to see an ad for ManCrunch (and I'm a pro-lifer in this discussion), they'd likely catch WAY too much hell for it.

Just my two cents.

Susanne said...

Now I really want to see that ad. :)

Jason said...

Agree 100% Roland, my take below from Wikipedia.

False Left-Right Paradigm: The political conspiracy theory that states that the two political parties both liberal and conservatives, share a common interest and goal, as a one body ruling authority over its masses. The two parties act to influence the general population while keeping control of the political spectrum.
The False Left-Right Paradigm theorizes that both political groups use its media channels to dramatize party warfare distraction, in grand performances of bureaucratic rivalry meant to propagandize and divide the audience. Psychological warfare is coordinated on all levels of politics and fed through media controlled outlets, to divert attention away from the ruling class's hidden agendas. By drawing attention to differences between two political systems, ideologies, races, and classes, the political groups obscure and divide unity among the masses. This tactic creates confusion and frustration among the population, enabling the global elite to preserve stolen wealth and power through maintaining the illusion of a two-party system of checks and balances. The two-party system of checks and balances becomes ineffective, limiting individual liberties and fostering an environment of political corruption and CONTROL.

Jason said...

Roland you are pulling open a pandoras box, do you really want to know whats inside?

from wikipedia I added the CAPS :)

FALSE Left-Right Paradigm: The political conspiracy theory that states that the two political parties both liberal and conservatives, share a common interest and goal, as a one body ruling authority over its masses. The two parties act to influence the general population while keeping control of the political spectrum.
The False Left-Right Paradigm theorizes that both political groups use its media channels to dramatize party warfare distraction, in grand performances of bureaucratic rivalry meant to propagandize and divide the audience. AKA THE ABORTION ISSUE Psychological warfare is coordinated on all levels of politics and fed through media controlled outlets, to divert attention away from the ruling class's hidden agendas. By drawing attention to differences between two political systems, ideologies, races, and classes, the political groups obscure and divide unity among the masses. This tactic creates confusion and frustration among the population, enabling the global elite to preserve stolen wealth and power through maintaining the illusion of a two-party system of checks and balances. The two-party system of checks and balances becomes ineffective, limiting individual liberties and fostering an environment of political corruption and CONTROL.

Andy said...

Hi Roland,

This is a serious question that I'd like your opinion on if you have time.

Do you think that Dobson "suckered" the pro-choice crowd into throwing a hissy-fit ahead of time, knowing that the ad was going to be as completely inoffensive as it was?

And, do you understand why this is being called a "political ad" by many (I think some in this thread, but don't quote me because I didn't go back and read all the comments again)?

ck said...

Hah! Focus schooled some liberals. I can't believe they threw such a fit about THAT ad.

Showed their true colors, they aren't pro-choice... but pro-abortion.

Roland Hulme said...

Andy - I think you might have a very serious point! When I saw Tebow 'sack' his mother, I thought; 'what the heck is THIS all about?'

Coffee Bean said...

I forgot to click on the e-mail follow up comments to this thread and didn't catch Connecticut Yankee's questions for me.

Now reading this over after having actually seen the add all of it seems ridiculous!

Do the networks see adds prior to okaying them for airing or do groups just buy time? I don't know how all that works. Maybe if they actually look at the adds prior that may have something to do with why the add from Focus was accepted while one from previous years was rejected for the United Church of Christ. There's got to be more to all of this than what we know.

I do not recall the name of the woman who ran an abortion clinic that later spoke out against it... nor do I remember if she was connected with Planned Parenthood. It could have been a privately funded clinic. I just remember being horrified by what she had to say in regard to the efforts they put forth for future business from teenagers. You don't hear about campaigning on campuses by orthopaedic doctors knowing that some of the teens involved in sports are going to break bones.