Just days before the Super Bowl, Planned Parenthood responded to the highly-talked-about Super Bowl ad featuring Tim Tebow by releasing its own sports-based video.
After staying mum for weeks, Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in the country, posted a video on YouTube featuring former NFL player Sean James and Olympic gold medalist Al Joyner, who directly respond to the pro-life ad produced by the conservative group Focus on the Family.
“There’s a lot of talk leading up to the Super Bowl about an ad focused on sports and family," James says in the video, referring to the yet-to-be-aired ad featuring college football star Tim Tebow and his mother, Pam.
Though the exact content of the ad has not been revealed, many speculate the ad, centered on the theme of “Celebrate Family, Celebrate Life,” will recount Pam Tebow’s refusal to have an abortion while she was pregnant with Tim despite having suffered from a life-threatening infection at the time.
Since Focus on the Family announced its decision to purchase a 30-second-spot for the Super Bowl, a flurry of discussions have broken out and a number of pro-choice groups were prompted to rally their supporters to call upon CBS to pull the ad.
Planned Parenthood, however, decided to take a different route.
In its video, Planned Parenthood contends that the real message of the Tebow ad is that society should respect and trust women to make their own decision on whether to keep or abort their child, though the word abortion is never used.
During his part, James says he respects and honors the “difficult medical decision she (Pam Tebow) made for her family.”
“My mom showed me that women are strong and wise,” says the former NFL player, who was a rookie free agent with the Minnesota Vikings during the 1991-1992 season. “She taught me that only women can make the best decisions about their health and their future.”
Joyner, who won an Olympic gold medal in 1984, adds, “I want my daughter to live in a world where everyone's decisions are respected."
"I trust her to take care of her itself," he says. "We celebrate families by supporting our mothers, by supporting our daughters, by trusting women.”
After Planned Parenthood’s videos went up, Douglas R. Scott, Jr., president of Life Decisions International, a Planned Parenthood watchdog group, quickly weighed in, calling PPFA’s new tactic “brilliant.”
“The James/Joyner video is slick,” said Scott. “Like Tim Tebow, the men are articulate and come across as sincere, caring individuals.”
But Scott pointed out that James and Joyner do not talk directly about abortion in their video. And neither did Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards, who reiterated the former athletes’ sentiments in her own statement
“Pam Tebow weighed medical and moral considerations and decided what was right for her and her family,” Richards had stated.
“And she did so in private and without government interference,” she added.
In his remarks, Scott noted that “[e]very word that leaves their mouths presents a ‘let’s all get along and let everyone do whatever they want to do’ and ‘let’s celebrate and praise the decisions of those who choose to kill their children just as we might celebrate and praise those who choose to bring a new life into the world.’”
The question, however, is not about trusting women, the pro-life activist said, but the matter is of life and death.
“The bottom line is that if Pam Tebow had followed the advice of her doctors and those who support ‘reproductive choice,’ Tim would have been killed,” Scott said. “‘Choices’ are not equal. Choosing death for another should never be ‘celebrated,’ ‘praised,’ or ‘respected.’”
While Planned Parenthood's ad won't be appearing in this year's Super Bowl, there is a good possibility that an ad like it will run next year in light of CBS's announcement last month stating that it would now consider airing “responsibly produced” advocacy ads amid the Tebow controversy.
Notably, however, exclusive television broadcast rights for the Super Bowl rotate each year among three of the four major American television networks - CBS, Fox, and NBC.
This year’s Super Bowl, which CBS will broadcast to over 90 million people in the United States, is scheduled to kick off at 6:28 p.m. ET. Sunday’s match up pits the American Football Conference’s Indianapolis Colts and the National Football Conference’s New Orleans Saints.