Tuesday, February 2, 2010
As I've stated before, I think it's great that there will be an ad during the Super Bowl celebrating life, and I thank Tim Tebow and his mom for having the courage to step up on an issue like this. To be honest, though, I wish that the ad featured a single mom who raised her child in a poor neighborhood, and watched her child struggle to find steady work as an adult, or parents who want to express their love and thanksgiving for their child with special needs. Choosing life is its own blessing; the blessing is not that you'll receive a world-conquering hero in return. I know that the Tebows would be celebrating life regardless of the Heisman Trophy, but I think the life-affirming message is even more powerful when life is celebrated in circumstances where the culture is prepared to see only hardship and regret.
The other wrinkle is that Pam Tebow ignored her doctor's advice about her health. This makes the message a bit more complicated, it seems. William Saletan writes:
Pam's story certainly is moving. But as a guide to making abortion decisions, it's misleading. Doctors are right to worry about continuing pregnancies like hers. Placental abruption has killed thousands of women and fetuses. No doubt some of these women trusted in God and said no to abortion, as she did. But they didn't end up with Heisman-winning sons. They ended up dead. . . .
On Sunday, we won't see all the women who chose life and found death. We'll just see the Tebows, because they're alive and happy to talk about it. In the business world, this is known as survivor bias: Failed mutual funds disappear, leaving behind the successful ones, which creates the illusion that mutual funds tend to beat market averages. In the Tebows' case, the survivor bias is literal. If you're diagnosed with placental abruption, you have the right to choose life. But don't be so sure that life is what you'll get.
If Pam Tebow's abruption had taken a different turn, her son would be just another perinatal mortality statistic, and she might be just another maternal mortality statistic. And you would know nothing of her story, just as you know nothing of the women who have died carrying pregnancies like hers.