In a day when the most innocuous thing can quickly become political, a Doritos Super Bowl commercial has upset some people who want abortion to be an unrestricted right.
For those taking a bathroom break or watching "Downton Abbey" instead of the football game, here's the scenario. A pregnant woman is receiving a sonogram in her hospital bed. The screen shows the baby. The father is snacking on Doritos and he notices the child's arms moving in the direction of the chip, as dad takes it from the bag and puts it in his mouth. Finally, the baby can stand it no longer and emerges from the womb to grab his own chip.
It's funny and most people took it as a creative way to get attention for the product, which is why advertisers paid up to$5 million for a 30 second ad on television's most watched sporting event.
The humor was lost on some. One with a Twitter address @NARAL (for the National Abortion Rights Action League) wrote: "#NotBuyingIt -- that @Doritos ad using #antichoice tactic of humanizing fetuses and sexist tropes of dads as clueless and moms as uptight."
Humanizing fetuses? Just what does that sonogram image show if not a human? It certainly isn't beer, which also occupied expensive commercial space during the game.
As for "dads and moms," can one be a dad or mom before a child is born, or only after birth? And if the woman decides to abort the baby, even as he or she emerges from the womb, do the adults instantly revert to their previous status as non-dad and non-mom? At what point does society, or feminism, convey parenthood on an adult, or humanness on a baby?
In addition to scientific advances that allow babies to survive at earlier periods of gestation, pro-choicers most fear the sonogram, precisely because it shows an image whose humanness cannot be denied. Having spoken at numerous pregnancy help centers, I have heard many women thinking of having an abortion testify that seeing a picture of their baby changed their minds.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, "...13 states require verbal counseling or written materials to include information on accessing ultrasound services. Twenty-five states regulate the provision of ultrasound by abortion providers. Three states mandate that an abortion provider perform an ultrasound on each woman seeking an abortion and requires the provider to show and describe the image. Ten states mandate that an abortion provider perform an ultrasound on each woman seeking an abortion, and require the provider to offer the woman the opportunity to view the image. Nine states require that a woman be provided with the opportunity to view an ultrasound image if her provider performs the procedure as part of the preparation for an abortion. Six states require that a woman be provided with the opportunity to view an ultrasound image."
There are laws requiring labels on things we buy at the supermarket, informing us of the amount of calcium, sodium, sugars in each product -- information considered important. There are laws requiring that certain information be given to a person seeking a bank loan, buying a house or car and before surgery.
Showing a pregnant woman a picture of what is growing inside her results in a more informed decision.
Once, in a debate with a pro-choice advocate, my opponent said by advocating for mandatory sonograms I was implying that women aren't smart enough to figure these things out on their own.
"Fine," I responded. "Then remove the labels from bottles and cans, do not provide information about a bank loan, and tear the sticker from the car at the dealership because women should be smart enough to figure these things out on their own."
If just one pregnant woman contemplating an abortion saw that Doritos commercial and decided to allow her "human" to live, the company, perhaps unwittingly, will have performed a vital service unrelated to the number of chips it sells.
(Readers may email Cal Thomas at email@example.com.)