One of the reasons Sarah Palin is so beloved by the religious right is the compelling anti-abortion story of her baby with Down’s Syndrome. (Never mind that it’s really a story of choice, since Palin considered abortion but *chose* to carry the pregnancy to term.) Conservatives are enthralled, and Palin’s done well by it. She’s probably the most in-demand keynote speaker on the social conservative/anti-abortion circuit — at upwards of $100,000 a speech, she’s her own industry. Who wouldn’t be encouraged to try getting some of that action for themselves?
Which brings us to Pam Tebow and her son Tim the quarterback. Tebow’s become something of an anti-choice celebrity with the story of her difficult pregnancy with Tim. She’s a regular speaker on the anti-abortion circuit, and will be featured in a Focus on the Family commercial to run during the Superbowl.
In the commercial, Ms.Tebow reportedly shares the story of how she was ill during her pregnancy, doctors advised her to abort and she refused (or “made the brave and virtuous choice“… huh. There’s that word again, “choice”), and at immense personal risk and peril carried the pregnancy to term. And the rest is history. Another compelling anti-abortion story? Maybe… if it’s true:
When pregnant with Tim, Pam Tebow was in the Philippines on a mission and became ill with amoebic dysentery. Early reports indicated that she was faced with a choice of continuing the pregnancy at the risk to her life.
That appears not to be true. Indeed the very facts of the situation are now in question.
During a bible study class, Pam Tebow related that “during that pregnancy, a Philippine doctor suggested that she abort the fetus because the strong medications she was being treated with for amoebic dysentery, which she had contacted early in the pregnancy, could cause serious disabilities to the fetus.”
Suggested that she abort the pregnancy? Or laid out the various risks that were possible, leaving her to her own judgment and choices? Made a definitive judgment that the fetus would unquestionably be harmed? Or described the risks of the medication necessary to treat the dysentery, including possible risks to the fetus? All of these are very different scenarios than the ones earlier suggested.
Exactly: a doctor advising a pregnant patient of all the potential risks isn’t the same thing as a doctor telling a patient she absolutely will be in mortal danger unless she terminates the pregnancy, which is what Tebow suggests in her version of the story. To top it off:
Abortion was criminalized in the Philippines in 1870 and has been illegal in the country ever since. There are no exceptions to the law. Abortion is even prohibited when a woman’s life or health is in danger. Women are punished with imprisonment between two to six years if they obtain one. Doctors and midwives who directly cause or assist a woman in an abortion face six years imprisonment and may have their licenses suspended or revoked.
So Tebow had no choice — she was just lucky.
Ironically, that little factoid almost makes her story a better pro-choice parable — “I didn’t have the choice, but I got lucky. What about all the women who don’t?”