Is this the year of the squirming baby political TV commercial? Following on the heels of the MoveOn.org squirming baby ad, comes the Family Research Council equivalent.
TPM Election Central and the NYT Caucus Blog are reporting that the Family Research Council is airing a new TV ad attacking Sen. Barack Obama on the issue of life beginning at conception. The ad is running in Cincinnati, then Atlanta, Dallas and other markets. FRC is not disclosing how much air time they bought or how long the ad will run. Its low production values suggest they are putting more into airing it than making it, but low production values don’t work on TV, suggesting this is more of an online effort to provoke news coverage.
In the ad, Tony Perkins, President of FRC takes issue with Obama talking about fathers being responsible beyond conception, then twists the point Obama made into a question about when life begins. In a statement, Perkins said,
“Barack Obama has made some very important points in his speeches,
particularly his speech about fatherhood, but there is a disconnect
between when he is saying and the political positions he has taken, and
if he is going to be pro family he has got to be pro family.”
Here is what Tony Perkins is not saying.
- If you believe life begins at conception, when egg and sperm meet, then you must also believe, as Perkins and other social conservatives want you to, that contraception and birth control cause abortions and thus should be outlawed. Birth control and contraception are not abortifacients.
- If you believe life begins at conception, you will also support the Colorado Ballot Initiative to define a fertilized egg as a person, with all the rights and responsibilities of a fully born, living, breathing human being. The problem is, it is impossible to tell exactly when an egg has been fertilized, thus when the "date of birth" (now nine months or so prior to what we currently think of as birth) actually is, and thus when these rights are conferred. There are many other problems with defining eggs as people with rights, as one of our commenters said, "I could now harvest and fertilize dozens of my eggs, and declare them as dependents." The list goes on.
- If you believe life begins at conception, that the egg is a person and that contraception should be banned, then outlawing abortion for any reason, including rape, incest or the life and health of the mother, will be easy. Most Americans support safe, legal and rare abortion — especially in cases of rape, incest or threat to the life and health of the mother.
- By only discussing conception/abortion, an issue many people find difficult to discuss, Tony Perkins and social conservatives have not been honest about their desire to outlaw contraception, and redefine birth as an unknowable moment of fertilization. They have been more upfront about their efforts to teach failed abstinence-only programs in place of comprehensive sexuality education, and come to think of it why not — if their goal is to outlaw contraception, why would they want to teach people how to be responsible in planning their families.
- It is possible to be pro-family, pro-sex-ed, pro-contraception, pro-family planning and pro-choice. Tony Perkins does not define what it means to be pro-family.
No, Tony Perkins doesn’t go into the detail behind his over-simplified notion of why he wants you to define life as starting at conception. He doesn’t tell you that he wants to take away your condoms, birth control pills and other contraceptive devices. He doesn’t tell you he wants you to have 5 or more kids just like he does, regardless of your ability to love, provide and care for them, or the circumstances under which you became pregnant.
Tony Perkins won’t tell you that the very best way to reduce unintended pregnancies is by empowering women, teaching young people the facts with comprehensive sexuality education, and making sure that contraception is accessible and affordable.
Most importantly, he won’t tell you that instead of engaging Sen. Obama on the point he was making, the importance of responsible parenting, Tony Perkins does what social conservatives always do — distract the debate about serious issues in this country to focus on the one issue they need to have front and center in order to turn out their base supporters — abortion. For them, it’s not about life, parenting, fatherhood or responsibility — it is about overturning Roe v. Wade and prohibiting one medical procedure, which will do nothing to reduce abortion, it will only harm women and make them criminals. Like the baby in the ad, anyone who has ever used contraception or wanted to determine when and how many children to have, should be squirming when they see this ad.