The most compelling battle of next weekend's Super Bowl may not be between the Indianapolis Colts and the New Orleans Saints. It's going on off the field over a controversial abortion ad featuring Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow. And now Sarah Palin and the National Organization for Women are drawing a line in the sand.
Palin is criticizing NOW for its demand that CBS not air the spot, which is being paid for by the conservative group Focus on the Family. In it, Tebow and his mother discuss the woman's decision not to abort the pregnancy that resulted in Tebow's birth. NOW claims the ad breaks with the network's long-standing tradition of not airing controversial spots during big sporting events.
Writing on her Facebook page, Palin said NOW’s opposition puts the group in a “ridiculous situation.” While praising NOW for its work calling out “advertisers and networks for airing sexist and demeaning portrayals of women,” Palin wrote that “NOW is looking at the pro-life issue backwards.”
“My message to these groups who are inexplicably offended by a pro-woman, pro-child, pro-life message airing during the Super Bowl: please concentrate on empowering women, help with efforts to prevent unexpected pregnancies, stay consistent with your message that for too long women have been made to feel like sex objects in our ‘modern’ culture and that we can expect better in 2010.”
But NOW said it's Palin who has things backwards, "missing our point" entirely. In a statement to POLITICO, NOW President Terry O'Neill wrote:
“The goal of the Focus on the Family ad is not to empower women. It's to create a climate in which Roe v. Wade can be overturned. There are always going to be women who need abortions. In this country, one in three women will have an abortion.
“Focus on the Family has cynically set it up so they can say anyone who disagrees with airing this ad is disrespecting one woman and her choice. NOW respects every woman's right to plan her own family and insists our laws do the same.”
CBS, which has traditionally turned down advocacy ads during major sports events, defended the turnaround. Spokesman Dana McClintock told the Associated Press, "we have for some time moderated our approach to advocacy submissions after it became apparent that our stance did not reflect public sentiment or industry norms."
He added that the network "will continue to consider responsibly produced ads from all groups for the few remaining spots in Super Bowl XLIV."