Talking 'Bout My Generation

Thursday, April 17, 2008


Today I heard one of the single most despicable stories of my adult life. One college student Aliza Shvarts of Yale reported that she has completed her senior art project on a series of SELF-INDUCED ABORTIONS taking place over the course of 9 months. Initially, I was overwhelmed with a sense of shock and horror. Why would someone do this? Shvarts claims she did it in a way to incite discussions about the relationship of the human body, art, and governmental control. Regardless of her reasoning, this has "publicity stunt" written all over it. It is my personal analysis that this sad girl has created an elaborate hoax that the media was quick to jump on for its sensationalistic value. Observe my skepticism--

Shvarts claims she received sperm from donor classmates and friends. She does not claim to have had sex with these boys, but instead to have implanted the sperm herself. Basically, home-grown artificial insemination. Really. She collected their sperm and was able to transport it to her uterus at the precise time of her ovulation. With what resources? Even the most basic "turkey-baster" method only has about a 10-15% success rate (according to wikipedia), and that's only if inserting the sperm immediately after its collection as it can only survive a few short hours in the open air.

Even if Shvarts was able to get pregnant like she claimed, how she managed to continually abort it without the help of a medical professional is quite a mystery. Shvarts claims to have used so-called "abortifacient drugs," which is just one way of saying a series of herbal concoctions thought to bring about a miscarriage despite any actual medical evidence or endorcement from the FDA. Any legitimate drugs like Mifegyne(of as much as 600mg) would need to be administered by a licensed clinician and would not be available as a method of self-abortion.

So say we give her the pregnancy, and the ability to self-abort it by getting her hands on some unauthorized perscription drugs, how does she explain the complete lack of concern for her own health and well-being. Such procedures and extreme perscription drug-use would have serious implications for her health, especially repeated numerous times over a relatively short series of 9 months. Side effects include serious vaginal bleeding, nausea, vomitting, and even Pelvic Inflammatory Disease. Often times drugs don't allow for a complete abortion, which would require her to see a doctor immediately to stabilize her condition. At least 8 women in the US alone have died from such drugs since 2000.
How exactly does she explain these things? That she got lucky? That her little 'science experiment/art project' was worth endangering her own life and destroying that of a "life" she herself created. Seems a little fishy to me. Either she's got a seriously malpracticed Doctor at her beck and call, or this story seems a little washed up.

So what DO we know about this "Abortion Art"?

That it includes photos of her cramping and bleeding. Any woman knows regular menstruation includes these things.

That it includes her real blood mixed with vaseline for preservation (EW). She could easily collect her monthly menstruation (as disgusting as THAT is) and use it to represent whatever it is she's trying to show.

Bottom line, we have NO proof of the pregnancy, NO proof of what drugs she used or that they actually produced her miscarriages, and NO medical documentation what-so-ever to back up her claims.

Instead all we have is the sad ramblings of a sick girl who really has no understanding or sympathy of what it really feels like to go through a miscarriage. Really, its just disgustingly sad. This is a traumatic thing that thousands of women suffer from each year, and for her to exploit it in such an irresponsible and distasteful manner...I just don't know what else to say.

**UPDATE** Just a few short hours after I could get my skeptical response posted, Yale Spokewoman Helaine Klasky issued a statement that clearly confirms my initial suspicion:
Statement by Helaine S. Klasky — Yale University, Spokesperson
New Haven, Conn. — April 17, 2008

Ms. Shvarts is engaged in performance art. Her art project includes visual representations, a press release and other narrative materials. She stated to three senior Yale University officials today, including two deans, that she did not impregnate herself and that she did not induce any miscarriages. The entire project is an art piece, a creative fiction designed to draw attention to the ambiguity surrounding form and function of a woman’s body.

She is an artist and has the right to express herself through performance art.

Had these acts been real, they would have violated basic ethical standards and raised serious mental and physical health concerns.

***UPDATE #2*** This girl is ridiculous. Svarts is refuting the claims of Yale Spokewoman Helaine Klasky, going further to attempt to offer some explanation for the exaction questions I raised above. She's standing behind her hoax to gain even more publicity. This passage is particularly telling:
"From the 9th to the 15th day of my menstrual cycle, the fabricators would provide me with sperm samples, which I used to privately self-inseminate. Using a needleless syringe, I would inject the sperm near my cervix within 30 minutes of its collection, so as to insure the possibility of fertilization. On the 28th day of my cycle, I would ingest an abortifacient, after which I would experience cramps and heavy bleeding."
I would just like to note that the 28th day coincides with the date of normal menstruation. She goes on to ADMIT that there is no proof (even for HER) that she was ever pregnant in the first place:
"Because the miscarriages coincide with the expected date of menstruation (the 28th day of my cycle), it remains ambiguous whether there was ever a fertilized ovum or not. The reality of the pregnancy, both for myself and for the audience, is a matter of reading."
Now this last bit just made me furiously angry at her pretentiousness. AMBIGUOUS? There's nothing ambiguous about it you self-important harpy. You fabricated this whole mess to gain notoriety, and made damn sure no one could refute your claims scientifically. WHAT IS YOUR POINT? That there is no way of telling the difference between regular period blood and that of a miscarriage, aside from the language assigned? You ignorant sick sad little girl. Learn some respect. The difference lies within the traumatic experience of those who go through a miscarriage, who knew unequivocally that they were pregnant and accepted their new fate as a mom, and to have all that ripped from them in one tragic moment. How dare you exploit that for your own personal gains. Its simply reprehensible.

I apologize for that last bit. This topic certainly insights passionate discourse. I strongly feel that this topic is relevant to our generation though. Fortunately for me, we have been blessed with the right to choose. The right to control the fate of our own bodies. But people have been trying to take this away for years. And to have one of our own fuel the fires of anti-abortionist claims is really devastating on so many levels.
posted by Megan Anhalt at 2:28 PM 0 comments