Can we talk?



We're not sure abortion has ever been debated this way on the national stage -- and it's a welcome development.

It all started when conservative advocacy group Focus on the Family decided to feature college football star Tim Tebow and his mother in a Super Bowl television ad, poignantly describing how she gave birth to him despite medical advice not to.

Radical feminists initially and vociferously attacked the life-affirming ad with unrestrained vitriol and unhinged descriptions of the ad as "unAmerican hate." Of course, that's raccoon-in-the-woods kind of rabid.

Now, however, Planned Parenthood has entered the debate with a slick, gentle ad seeking to answer the Tebows'. It comes too late to air at the Super Bowl, but was put online.

In it, several male athletes talk about respecting women and their choices. It's very well done, and does cool the rhetoric down to a reasonable level of debate.

In that spirit of civil debate, we'd like to take issue with several assertions in the Planned Parenthood message.

"I respect and honor Mrs. Tebow's decision," says athlete Sean James.

That's admirable and appreciated. Yet, it's hardly been the reaction of most feminist groups. Those of us in the pro-life community feel that many in the pro-choice contingent are pro-choice only when it comes to abortion. When the choice is life, you tend to get the kind of bile cited above.

Why can't pro-choicers join with pro-lifers in touting life, as the Tebows are doing? Why can't they find it in themselves to even acknowledge that life is a superior choice? Isn't it?

At the very least, it's a choice. And it's one that every one of our mothers chose.

"I want my daughter to live in a world where everyone's decisions are respected," says athlete Al Joyner.

It's a commendable-sounding sentiment -- but let's look under the hood a bit.

Mr. Joyner's statement makes it sound as if all decisions are equal and are worthy of respect. Clearly, rationally, that's just simply not the case. Decisions to rape, to bomb airliners, to rob, to cheat -- the list of decisions that are worthy of contempt, rather than respect, is long indeed.

If Mr. Joyner wants respect for people, we agree. But if he wants to use emotional blackmail to have that also mean that any and all decisions they make must be respected, then count us out.

"We're working toward the day where every woman will be valued," Mr. James says.

Great! We happen to think everyone should be valued -- including future women and men in the womb.

We welcome the tenor of debate that these two ads create. We hope the pro-life and pro-choice communities continue to engage each other in just such a respectful, civil debate -- and, at the same time, they get to the heart of the issue, which is whether the unborn have a right to live; and whether we, whose mothers chose life, have an obligation to extend that same precious gift to the rest of humanity.