When people get together on Super Bowl Sunday, they probably don’t expect to see an anti-abortion ad sponsored by Focus on the Family. This year, they’re in for a big surprise.
A few weeks ago, CBS announced that it would allow Focus on the Family to air its highly controversial ad featuring college football star Tim Tebow and his mother Pam Tebow. The Center launched a letter writing campaign to CBS, calling on the network’s Standards and Practices Department to reconsider running the ad. Read the letter here >,
While the exact content of the advertisement has not been revealed yet, the commercial is expected to recount the story of Pam Tebow’s pregnancy in 1987. That story, reported in press outlets as far back as 2005, revolves around Mrs. Tebow living and working as a missionary in the Philippines while she was pregnant with Tim. Reportedly, doctors diagnosed her with a medical condition that endangered her health and pregnancy and recommended that she have an abortion.
The Center’s letter points out some serious factual questions, namely, that abortion has been illegal in the Philippines for over a century with no exceptions.
CBS also recently announced that their policy for advocacy ads has evolved, easing restrictions. The Center is very concerned about any policies that allow for an ad to be placed out-of-context and paid for by an anti-choice organization and is strongly encouraging CBS to pull the ad.
The Abortion Ban in the Philippines
Abortion was criminalized in the Philippines in 1870 and has been illegal in the country ever since. There are no exceptions to the law. Abortion is even prohibited when a woman’s life or health is in danger. Women are punished with imprisonment between two to six years if they obtain one. Doctors and midwives who directly cause or assist a woman in an abortion face six years imprisonment and may have their licenses suspended or revoked.
Because of the severity of the Philippines law, abortion is underground, making it 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.