Sarah Palin defends antiabortion ad

The pro-lifer chimes in on the Super Bowl controversy to remind us the only "choice" she supports is her own

By Margaret Eby
Published January 27, 2010 4:01PM (EST)

The brewing controversy over Focus on the Family’s antiabortion Super Bowl ad has reached a fever pitch over the past few days. On Monday, a coalition of women’s groups called on CBS to yank the 30-second spot, which will focus on the story of Pam Tebow’s pregnancy with Florida University football star Tim Tebow. It was only a matter of time before Sarah Palin, patron saint of the mixed metaphor and pro-life advocate with the InTouch Weekly cover to prove it, weighed in.

And weigh in she did, posting a Facebook note yesterday that berated women’s groups who were "inexplicably offended" by the ad for their "double standard" (huh?), and noting that groups like NOW are getting themselves into "a ridiculous situation."

Setting aside the fact that outrage at the ad is perfectly reasonable, considering the Super Bowl’s long-standing policy of rejecting advocacy ads, Focus on the Family’s less-than-stellar record, and the idea of being preached to when we’re supposed to be enjoying chili nachos (as Tracy Clark-Flory put it, "On the biggest sporting night of the year, people want their Doritos, Bud Light and Pepsi commercials, not propaganda"), it’s particularly galling that Palin couches her objection in terms of choice:

NOW is looking at the pro-life issue backwards. Women should be reminded that they are strong enough and smart enough to make decisions that allow for career and educational opportunities while still giving their babies a chance at life. …They should call attention to and embrace the Tebow’s message, instead of covertly and overtly disrespecting what Mrs. Tebow, Bristol, and millions of other women have chosen to do (in less than ideal circumstances).

To be clear, I don’t think that Pam Tebow or Sarah Palin’s decision to keep their children in the face of overwhelming medical and emotional difficulties should be taken lightly. But what seems to elude Palin here is those were choices that she and Ms. Tebow were allowed to make. If women are "smart and strong enough" to have children as well as go to school and have high-powered jobs -- and we sure as hell are -- we should also be able to decide what to do with our own bodies. What Sarah Palin fails to do is value other women’s judgment about their reproductive welfare as much as her own. The measures that Focus on the Family -- and Palin -- advocate take away the decision-making process from women under the guise of "respecting" them. And that’s what’s really backward. 

Margaret Eby

Margaret Eby has written for the New York Times, The New Yorker, Salon and the Los Angeles Times, among other publications. Originally from Birmingham, Alabama, she now lives in New York City.

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