Pam Tebow's Story

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Tim Tebow
Denver Broncos Quarterback Tim Tebow. Jeff Gross / Getty Images

A viral email about Pam Tebow, who came down with a case of amoebic dysentery just before becoming pregnant in 1986. Doctors recommended a medical abortion but she refused, ultimately giving birth to a healthy baby boy: Tim Tebow.

Description: Forwarded email
Circulating since: Dec. 2011
Status: True / Disputed (see details below)

Email text contributed by Satinsong, 01/12/12:

Subject: Pam's Story........ A TRUE STORY!

I know many people are turned off by his witness but do they know the rest of the story?

In a recent email, I read about a woman named Pam, who knows the pain of considering abortion. More than 24 years ago, she and her husband Bob were serving as missionaries to the Philippines and praying for a fifth child. Pam contracted amoebic dysentery, an infection of the intestine caused by a parasite found in contaminated food or drink. She went into a coma and was treated with strong antibiotics before they discovered she was pregnant.

Doctors urged her to abort the baby for her own safety and told her that the medicines had caused irreversible damage to her baby. She refused the abortion and cited her Christian faith as the reason for her hope that her son would be born without the devastating disabilities physicians predicted. Pam said the doctors didn't think of it as a life, they thought of it as a mass of fetal tissue.

While pregnant, Pam nearly lost their baby four times but refused to consider abortion. She recalled making a pledge to God with her husband: If you will give us a son, we'll name him Timothy and we'll make him a preacher.

Pam ultimately spent the last two months of her pregnancy in bed and eventually gave birth to a healthy baby boy August 14, 1987. Pam's youngest son is indeed a preacher. He preaches in prisons, makes hospital visits, and serves with his father's ministry in the Philippines . He also plays football. Pam's son is Tim Tebow.

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Analysis: The above article was written by Dr. Jerry Kieschnick, President Emeritus of the Missouri Synod of the Lutheran Church, and originally published in an online posting dated Dec. 15, 2011. The narrative, now circulating via forwarded email, comports in all important respects with descriptions of the circumstances of Tim Tebow's birth given by both of his parents, Pam and Bob Tebow, in separate published accounts.

Pam Tebow's account appeared in a news story published in the Gainesville Sun on Dec. 6, 2007. Mrs. Tebow became pregnant with her fifth child, Tim, she told the paper, when she and her husband were serving as Christian missionaries in the Philippines in 1986. Shortly before that, she had come down with a serious case of amoebic dysentery. "Her treatment required a series of strong medications," the story continues. "As a result of those medications, doctors told Pam the fetus had been irreversibly damaged, and they strongly advised her to have an abortion." She refused on account of her faith, and gave birth to a "skinny" but otherwise healthy Tim Tebow on Aug.

14, 1987.

Bob Tebow's account appeared in the July 27, 2009 edition of Sports Illustrated and is similar to his wife's:

"When I was out in the mountains in Mindanao, back in '86, I was showing a film and preaching that night. I was weeping over the millions of babies being [aborted] in America, and I prayed, 'God, if you give me a son, if you give me Timmy, I'll raise him to be a preacher.'" Not long after, Bob and Pam Tebow conceived their fifth child. It was a very difficult pregnancy. "The placenta was never properly attached, and there was bleeding from the get-go," Bob recalls. "We thought we'd lost him several times." Early in the pregnancy Pam contracted amebic dysentery, which briefly put her in a coma. Her doctors, fearful that medications they had given her had damaged the fetus, advised her to abort it. She refused, and on Aug. 14, 1987, Pam delivered a healthy if somewhat scrawny Timothy Richard Tebow.

The story of Tim Tebow's birth became the subject of controversy when an abbreviated version was featured in a pro-life Super Bowl ad placed by the Christian advocacy group Focus on the Family on Feb. 7, 2010. Pro-choice advocates questioned its veracity (and still do) on the grounds that Philippine doctors wouldn't have suggested aborting a fetus, even on medical grounds, given the total ban on abortion in effect in the Philippines since 1930. But while the argument isn't completely without merit, neither is it sufficient to disprove the Tebows' account. The claim is that Pam Tebow's doctors recommended abortion — which, if elected, could have been performed in another country where the procedure was legal — not that they offered to perform it themselves.

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Sources and further reading:

Fact Check: Tim Tebow's Birth Story
Florida Times-Union, 7 January 2012

Pam's Story by Dr. Jerry Kieschnick
Perspectives, 15 December 2011

Tim Tebow Super Bowl Ad: Anti-Abortion Commercial to Air
ABC News, 26 January 2010

Tim Tebow Super Bowl Ad May Be Based on Falsehood, Lawyer Claims
Huffington Post, 31 March 2010

You Gotta Love Tim Tebow
Sports Illustrated, 27 July 2009

Tebow's Family Ties
Gainesville Sun, 6 December 2007

Last updated 01/13/12