Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Watch your words.

That line is a staple of the lactivist movement. Watch your words. Don't say that breast is best, because it is not--it's the biological standard.

I've been thinking of the phrase "watch your words" in a different context lately. I read LaShawn Barber's blog--it's the only explicitly pro-life blog I still bother reading (I read The Anchoress for a while, but she got boring)--and she's talked some about the ad slated for the SuperBowl with Tim Tebow and his mother.

For those of you who are clueless about it--as I was--the story is that Tebow's parents were serving as missionaries in the Phillipines, and while she was pregnant with him, she contracted amoebic dysentery. At least one doctor (I'm reading "doctors", but who knows how many?) apparently urged her to have an abortion, saying that the medications she needed to be treated with would likely have severely harmed her baby. I also read somewhere that she suffered a placental abruption (where the placenta tears away from the uterine wall prematurely; this can lead to stillbirth), but I don't know how accurate that is.

Anyway, of course I applaud her for not killing her unborn child, but at the same time something has nagged me about the pro-life coverage of this upcoming advertisement. I had been trying to figure out what it is that bugged me, and this morning it hit me: the unspoken (by the ad, at least, from what I've heard) message is "Don't abort your kid, because he might just grow up to be someone famous and accomplished."

Here's my problem with that. Most people aren't going to grow up to be someone famous and accomplished. Simple fact. Choosing to not have that abortion may slow a girl/woman down in life. May stick her in the lower rungs of society for at least a few years. And her child may grow up to be no one special.

But just because someone's "no one special" doesn't mean they don't deserve to live as well.

This is another issue that kinda hits home for me. My best friend was born to an unwed preteen mother, and most likely is the product of sexual abuse. In short, the circumstances of his conception were pretty much textbook "should abort." I can't say whether his mother considered it--I somehow doubt the concept was one she was really aware of, though--but I am very glad that he is here. He will most likely not be the next Augusten Burroughs, or even a local mover-and-shaker (nor will I, so I'm not knocking him here). But to me he is an incredibly important person, a friend for over twenty years now, someone who has been there during the worst and the best times I've ever had. The world at large might not have been worse off if he was never born, but I certainly would have been.

And this is the truth of most of the people who were thankfully not aborted (and would have been the truth of those who sadly were). They are no one special to the world, but they are hugely worthwhile people anyway, simply by virtue of being PEOPLE. There is always at least one person whose life would be worse off for someone not having been born, and my fellow pro-lifers need to be mindful of this. We must be careful to always watch our words, and avoid even implying that some people are more equal than others.


Bob S. said...


Just my opinion but I don't think the message of the Tebow ad is "don't abort, your child MAY be something special" but simply that each and every child has the potential to be special.

And that may only be special to one person, or in an average way.

My wife was adopted, she hasn't played in the college bowl series, has cured polio, hasn't spoken in front of millions -- but you try to deny she is special and there will be a whole can of whoop ass opened up :)

How many women only see the negative when considering abortion?
I'm not saying that abortion isn't right in some cases, but the purpose of the ad is to give voice to the positive side of choosing.

They are no one special to the world, but they are hugely worthwhile people anyway, simply by virtue of being PEOPLE. There is always at least one person whose life would be worse off for someone not having been born,

I agree completely but is this a case of watching our words or it is a case of people reading too much into the words?

Dave said...

I totally concur with Bob.

In fact, while I didn't read it firsthand, I heard reportage of Susan Estrich writing a column to make the exact point that the Tebow were trying to say, "Don't abort your kid because he "might" be special."

Obviously, if you abort that kid, he is not only not going to be Tim Tebow special, but he doesn't even get the chance to be average.

As a parent, I was thankful for ten fingers and ten toes.

Sabra said...

I can get on board with a message of "Don't abort your child, because he will be someone special."

Thing is, though, I rarely see that argument made. I can't count the number of times I've heard something along the lines of "What if that child would have come up with the cure for cancer?"

I will, of course, withhold judgment on the ad--I don't think, retrospectively, that I got across too clearly here that my issue is more with the pro-life coverage of the ad than anything else--as it's incredibly unlikely that I will see it. I suppose any message comes across more forcefully with a celebrity spokesperson...

Bob S. said...


I'll argue the point with "(s)he might cure cancer"....why not use hyperbole and statistics to make the case?

Looking back through history it is fairly easy to see any number of significant people who came from humble beginnings.

Which is going to have a greater impact on someone considering abortion:

a.) Hey, your child may live their life in total obscurity.


b.)Hey, your child may do something completely spectacular.

It is about provoking thought, not pointing out the odds of success.

Sabra said...

why not use hyperbole and statistics to make the case?

I suppose my immediate objection to it is this: most people can sniff out that level of bullshit without even trying.

Why is "Your kid might grow up to cure cancer" a better line than "Your child WILL make a difference in the life of at least one person"? Why advertise on the least likely thing instead of a guaranteed outcome?

Bob S. said...

Because everyone KNOWS their child would make a difference in the life of at least one person.

Not everyone has thought that Jonas Salk could have been aborted.

Or that Louis Pasteur could have been aborted.

People consider that their child might be loved by someone and they still decide to abort.

If they stop and think they might be condemning millions to suffer - it might give them pause.

Why do people buy lottery tickets? Because someone has to win, right?

David said...

I guess for me, the fact that it's a debate is foreign - but I am a Christian, a parent, and a foster parent.

Here is my take on the who thing from legal, to logical to spiritual.