By Hilary White

NEW HAVEN, Connecticut, April 18, 2008 ( – News outlets exploded yesterday with the story that a graduate art student at Yale University had deliberately impregnated herself multiple times and then used chemical abortifacients as an art project. Shvarts had said that the blood from the “project” would be displayed along with video recordings of the “forced miscarriages”. LifeSiteNews reported the development.

Soon after the story broke, however, Yale University issued a statement that the announcement of the project by graduate art student Aliza Shvarts had been a hoax meant as a piece of “performance art”.   Helaine S. Klasky, a spokesman for Yale said that the hoax was the project. She said that Shvarts had not in fact impregnated herself and did not “induce any miscarriages” and that to do so would be a violation of ethical and health principles. LifeSiteNews accordingly changed its report of earlier in the day to reflect the Yale statement.

But in a guest column that ran in today’s Yale Daily News, Shvarts insists that she did indeed conduct artificial inseminations and carry out self-induced “miscarriages” using abortifacient drugs. However, she also adds that she couldn’t be sure if she was ever actually pregnant, because she took the abortificiant drugs on the 28th day of her menstrual cycle, the day on which bleeding would occur anyway.

“The reality of the pregnancy, both for myself and for the audience, is a matter of reading.”

“For the past year, I performed repeated self-induced miscarriages,” Shvarts wrote in the column. “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….Because the miscarriages coincide with the expected date of menstruation (the 28th day of my cycle), it remains ambiguous whether the there (sic) was ever a fertilized ovum or not.”

Shvarts claimed that her project was “university sanctioned”.

“I’m not going to absolve [the university] by saying it was some sort of hoax when it wasn’t,” she told the Yale Daily News. “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. Ultimately I want to get back to a point where they renew their support.”

The incident came as no surprise to pro-life advocates who had previously observed Yale’s enthusiastic support for legal abortion and the school’s frivolous attitude toward it. In January this year, during “Roe v. Wade week”, the Reproductive Rights Action League at Yale (RALY) staged a presentation in which students conducted mock-abortions and demonstrated abortion techniques.

At the event, Rasha Khoury, a member of Medical Students for Choice, demonstrated a vacuum aspirator, telling assembled students, “It’s not as scary as it seems. It’s just blood and mucus.” Khoury said, referring to the foetal remains in the device, “You’ll be able to see arms and stuff, but still just miniscule.”

In addition, Yale University medical school requires abortion training for ob/gyn residents established by Planned Parenthood’s Connecticut branch (PPC). Second year ob/gyn residents must complete two four-week rotations with PPC for training in abortion techniques such as vacuum suction, medical abortions, and other “family planning” services in a program entitled Family Planning/Ambulatory Surgery.

Peter Wolfgang, executive director of the pro-life Family Institute of Connecticut, an anti-abortion group, told the media that his anger was not mitigated by the university’s claim 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.”

Given the University’s history and the tenor of some recent “art projects” from avant-garde US artists, the project was taken seriously by the news media, pro-life and pro-abortion groups and by Catholic writers alike. “After all, if embryonic human beings can be destroyed for the sake of science, why can’t they be killed in the name of art?” commented a spokesman for the Silent No More Awareness Campaign.

Elizabeth Scalia, a New York freelance writer and contributor to the Inside Catholic weblog, said it “demonstrates that our society has succeeded in creating a real disassociative mindset within ourselves.”

“I am appalled also that the Yale newspaper continually refers to this as an ‘induced miscarriage’ or ‘miscarriage’ throughout. This is not a miscarriage it is intended as an abortion,” she wrote. 

Silent No More’s Georgette Forney said that the entire incident is a “natural extension of the abortion mindset’s utilitarian view that unborn children are expendable.”

“The lie that unborn children are not children is a cancer that has resulted in the kind of calloused hearts and minds that would conceive and approve of a project like this. It’s not just that the project is offensive, it diminishes human life.”

Read related coverage:

Revealed as HOAX: Yale Student Did Not Impregnate Herself or Have Multiple Abortions for School “Art” Project

“Roe v. Wade Week” at Yale Features Do It Yourself Abortions