Thursday, May 20, 2010

Why Ziganto's For The Women card has been pulled

Last month, Lori Ziganto attacked Jessica Valenti at Feministing for cheering the "anonymous pro-choice hero" who defaced the following ad somewhere in the New York City subway system:

The defaced ad appeared thus:

Ziganto was apoplectic:
Want to go to college, but there is a pesky baby growing inside of you? Abort! A life is far less important than your co-ed fun and career plans, right? Your dreams are all that matters, baby be damned. Can’t let that get in the way! Follow President Obama’s thinking and don’t let yourself be “punished with a baby!”

Jessica Valenti called the ad “heinous.” Do you know what she said about the defaced ad promoting abortion for convenience? She called the vandal a “pro-choice hero” and then said:
Love. It.
Loves encouraging abortion for convenience. Loves encouraging abortion because a baby, a human life, doesn’t fit in with your super fun college plans. Denies the trauma that abortion may cause to the woman, but rejoices at the thought of killing a baby who isn’t timely.

But you want it to be safe, legal and rare? Baloney. Willy nilly matters of convenience are not part of that definition. You have devalued life to the point where *convenience* over-rides a life itself, in your minds.

That is heinous.
The careful reader will notice that Ziganto resorts to the straw man fallacy.  Again. According to Ziganto, pro-choicers believe that abortion is justified whenever completing a pregnancy is inconvenient.  Now, inconvenience is what one might call an elastic concept: what one person considers inconvenient might not be considered inconvenient by someone else.  But it's clear from the tone of her rant that Ziganto would perhaps never consider completing a pregnancy inconvenient.  And she also seems to think that pro-choicers would always find completing a pregnancy inconvenient.  To Ziganto, women who abort are sociopathic narcissists. 

There are two important points to make about Ziganto's rant.  First, as Valenti points out, women often have "complex, personal, and often selfless reasons" for obtaining abortions. And where Ziganto offers only snark in support of her claims, Valenti offers actual scientific evidence.  According to a 2005 study that appeared in the peer-reviewed journal Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health,
Women give many reasons for having an abortion; the most frequent are that having a child (or another child) would interfere with their ability to care for their existing children, their work responsibilities or their education, and that they cannot afford a baby right now. . . . Women’s reasons for ending a pregnancy have been consistent over time and often focus on their responsibilities to the children they already have and considerations for the children they plan to have in the future.

“There is a misconception that women take the decision to terminate a pregnancy lightly,” says Finer. “Women’s primary reasons for making this difficult decision are based on a lack of resources in light of their current responsibilities. Typically, more than one reason drives the decision, and these reasons are frequently interrelated.”
Now, one might argue that I've been unfair to Ziganto.  Perhaps I have.  She doesn't believe that women who abort are sociopathic narcissists, some might say; rather, given that abortion ends human fetal life, which is a very serious matter, abortion could only very rarely be justified.  Wanting to go to college and fulfill one's dreams certainly wouldn't justify abortion. 

But this won't do either.  As Valenti points out, "It isn't that anti-choicers don't understand why women get abortions—it's that they care so little about women's lives that any reason given to obtain an abortion is seen as 'convenient.'"  Pro-lifers compulsively insist on the rights of the fetus, but they curiously silent about the rights of the women carrying fetuses.  If a woman is obligated to ensure that the fetus she carries has an opportunity to fulfill its dreams, why do pro-lifers ridicule the woman's insistence that she have the very same opportunity?  Ziganto asks the pro-choicer, "A life is far less important than your co-ed fun and career plans, right?"  But we could just as easily ask her, "Your fetus's co-ed fun and career plans are far more important than your life, right?"

If Ziganto weren't so busy trivializing the reasons women typically have for obtaining abortions, she might have supported health care reform, since it appears that universal health care actually cuts the abortion rate.  But this business isn't about improving the lives of women; it's about raising money for herself and other responsibility-free bloggers.

I guess preventing abortions doesn't fit in with Ziganto's super-fun blogger plans.

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It is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence. ---W.K. Clifford

Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blind-folded fear. ---Thomas Jefferson