Abortion 'Art' Project Cut from Yale Exhibit

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Yale University officials yanked a controversial abortion art project from exhibit, Tuesday, after its offensive nature drew protests from pro-life and pro-choice believers alike.

Senior Aliza Shvarts revealed last Thursday she inseminated herself several times over the past year to get pregnant, abort, and collect blood from the process for use in her senior thesis project.

Yale has maintained that the work was an example of "performance art," and nothing more than "creative fiction."

But Shvarts stuck by her story, ignoring demands from Yale Dean Peter Salovey to admit her abortion project was not derived from actual events.

As a result, the university pulled her piece from the Undergraduate Senior Art Show, set for exhibition on campus, April 22-May 1.

"In the normal course of events, Ms. Shvarts's project would be installed at the School of Art for critique and discussion with a committee of faculty," Salovey said.

Though the university shot down Shvarts' claims as untrue, the art student accused Yale of covering up the truth because the project had gotten so much attention.

"I started out with the University on board with what I was doing, and because of the media frenzy they've been trying to dissociate with me," she told the Yale Daily News Friday. "Ultimately, I want to get back to a point where they renew their support, because...this was something they supported."

The university also said it has taken "appropriate action" against Shvarts' adviser, Pia Lindman, and one other faculty member who knew about her project.

Pro-Choicers Speak Out

Shvarts' project has outraged both pro-life and pro-choice supporters, an ironic twist for these two groups who traditionally do not share much common ground in the abortion debate.

"This 'project' is offensive and insensitive to the women who have suffered the heartbreak of miscarriage," said Ted Miller of NARAL Pro-Choice America. He called the artwork offensive and "not a constructive addition to the debate over reproductive rights."

The Reproductive Rights Action League at Yale and the Yale Law Students for Reproductive Justice also joined in objection of Shvarts' project.

"Although we stand by the right to reproductive freedom, we cannot approve of her approach and presentation," the groups said in a statement. "Like most who have heard of these events, we are shocked by the content of the art piece in question and the manner in which very serious aspects of reproductive rights have been treated."

Shortly after Shvarts' story was published by the Yale Daily News, students began to protest the project.

"Almost every student whom I encountered yesterday was horrified at the thought that Aliza Shvarts had repeatedly impregnated herself... and glory in her 'freedom' to do so," said Margaret Blume, a member of Choose Life at Yale. "It was deeply reassuring to me that most of my friends and fellow classmates, regardless of their political views on abortion, shared my outrage for such an awful and unnatural experiment."

Some used the paper's Web site to comment on the topic.

"As a woman who has endured two miscarriages, I find this very sick and twisted," said one visitor. "No one should create life simply to destroy it."

Still, others felt that by banning the work, Yale had silenced the freedom of expression it claims to promote.

"Too bad for Yale's administration, which was given the chance to prove its allegiance to truly interesting and challenging academic work, but gave it up," another user wrote. "(And) too bad for the rest of us, who will not get the chance to form our own, informed opinions about the finished work."

A Trend of 'Death Art'

Shvarts' project was not the first to the draw a connection between art and death.

AFP reported German artist Gregor Schneider recently announced that he wants to use a dying person for his next art show.

"Unfortunately today, death and the road to death are about suffering. Coming to terms with death as I plan it can take away the pain of dying for us," he said.

Similarly, Gunther von Hagens, also known as "Doctor Death," internationally toured his exhibition of plastinated corpses in living poses.

Both have raised debate, and numerous supporters.

What's Next for Shvarts?

University spokesperson Helaine Klasky told CBN News that Yale has not made a decision yet on whether Shvarts' project would be completely removed from the student exhibit.

There is also no word on whether the senior will face punishment from the university, or whether she will receive credit for her thesis project.

The Yale senior said she has no other plans to display her work if the university does not allow it to be in the show.

Sources: CBN News, Yale Daily News, Yale University, AFP

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Cicely Gosier

Cicely Gosier


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