Yale Student Now Denies Having Made Abortions Into Art

April 17, 2008

(Updated at 9 p.m.)

A Yale University art student who told the campus newspaper that she had repeatedly inseminated herself artificially and then induced miscarriages as part of her senior thesis has retracted those statements, a university spokeswoman announced late today.

The student, Aliza Shvarts, was quoted in the the Yale Daily News as saying that the project was meant to explore the relationship between art and the human body. “I hope it inspires some sort of discourse,” she said. The project was to culminate in an exhibit of video recordings of the miscarriages and plastic-wrapped blood from them, the newspaper said.

Ms. Shvarts told the News that she did not pay the sperm donors, but did require them to be tested for sexually transmitted diseases. She also said that she had induced the miscarriages by taking abortifacient drugs that were legal and herbal, and that she was not concerned for the effects repeated miscarriages might have on her body.

After the article’s publication, however, Ms. Shvarts told senior officials at Yale that she had not impregnated herself and had not induced any miscarriages, the spokeswoman, Helaine S. Klasky, said in a statement posted on the university’s Web site.

Ms. Shvarts “has the right to express herself through performance art,” the statement says. It adds: “Had these acts been real, they would have violated basic ethical standards and raised serious mental and physical health concerns.” —Beckie Supiano