Yale: Student artwork purporting to show abortion was a hoax

A Yale University art student duped the student newspaper with a story about inducing repeated abortions on herself and using the blood for her senior art project, the school said Thursday.The story about Aliza Shvarts’ project, published Thursday in the Yale Daily News, swept across blogs and media outlets – including the Drudge Report, Fox News and The Washington Post – before Yale issued a statement saying it investigated and found it all to be a hoax that was Shvarts’ idea of elaborate “performance art.”

“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,” said Yale spokeswoman Helaine Klasky.

Shvarts’ “performance art” included visual representations, a news release and other narrative materials, Klasky said. When confronted by three senior Yale officials, including two deans, Shvarts acknowledged that she was never pregnant and did not induce abortions.

Shvarts told the student paper that she planned to display a work that consisted of a cube lined with plastic sheets with a blood-and-petroleum-jelly mixture in between, onto which she would project video footage of herself “experiencing miscarriages in her bathroom tub.”

The newspaper’s account detailed “a nine-month process during which (Shvarts) artificially inseminated herself ‘as often as possible’ while periodically taking abortifacient drugs to induce miscarriages.”

Shvarts told the paper her goal was to spark conversation and debate on the relationship between art and the human body.

Cullen MacBeth, the student newspaper’s managing editor, declined to comment Thursday.

Shvarts could not be reached for comment. Her telephone number was disconnected and she did not respond to e-mails or a knock on the door at the address listed for her in the campus directory in New Haven.

Groups both for and against abortion rights expressed outrage over the affair.

Ted Miller, a spokesman for NARAL Pro-Choice America, called the concept offensive and “not a constructive addition to the debate over reproductive rights.”

Peter Wolfgang, executive director of the Family Institute of Connecticut, an anti-abortion group, said his anger was not mitigated by the fact that Shvarts was never pregnant.

“I’m astounded by this woman’s callousness,” he said. “There are thousands of women in this country who are dealing with the pain of having had an abortion, with the trauma of having suffered a miscarriage. For her to make light of that for her own purposes is just beyond words.”

-with a report from CP