18 April 2008

Abortion as art?

Bitch PhD has written about an art student who, for a period of nine months, artificially inseminated herself frequently, and then took abortifacients in order to induce miscarriages. She has used the blood from the miscarriages in order to create a piece of artwork, and has also created videos of herself having miscarriages in her bathtub, which will be displayed as part of her exhibition.

The Yale Daily News carries the story in full.

I really don't know how to feel about this. On one hand, I feel that it demonstrates that women can - and do - have abortions, and are able to continue to live their lives without regrets. It shows that abortions and miscarriages are events which happen to women everyday, and they don't have to be the big deal that the press makes them out to be. However, it does make me feel uncomfortable, and I'm not sure why. I am quite a squeamish person, and perhaps thats why.

I am an advocate for women having full control over their own bodies, and I guess that Aliza Shvarts (the artist) has taken this argument to its ultimate conclusion. The YDN carries a couple of comments which include;

Sara Rahman ’09 said, in her opinion, Shvarts is abusing her constitutional right to do what she chooses with her body.

“[Shvarts’ exhibit] turns what is a serious decision for women into an absurdism,” Rahman said. “It discounts the gravity of the situation that is abortion.”

I disagree - if you have a constitutional right (or in the UK, perhaps a Human right) to do something with your own body, then by definition, that means that you cannot be abusing that right, even if you use that right in ways which some people disapprove of, or if it is an unconventional use of that right.

I think that what makes me uncomfortable about this, is that it will just fan the flames of prolifers who want people to believe that women only have abortions for "frivolous" reasons, or are too stupid to actually know what they are doing. I don't think that there is actually a "good" or "bad" reason for having an abortion - I trust women to make the right decisions for themselves, but this is an extreme case, and is almost certainly not going to be well-received by the mainstream press.

I'm still thinking about this one, and hopefully I'll be able to read some more opinions on this.

Update: Feministing report that the University have said that Shvart's art was a hoax. However, the artist herself has rebutted this, and insists that she did artificially inseminate herself, and take herbal abortifacients.

I really, really don't know what to think about this.

Update 2: Amanda Marcotte and Majikthise have got some very good reasons why this art project is a hoax.

1 comment:

Issa said...

At first this also made me feel uncomfortable, but now after having thought about it, I think it´s wonderful. I have never had an abortion, so I can only make assumptions about its affect on a woman. I just think, why shouldn´t she, I do expect a case to be made stating that she is ´abusing herself´ or mentally unfit. I also wonder if having so many abortions oover such a short period of time would affect her health.
I do like the fact that she is challengin our comfort levels and how we really feel about pregnancy, our bodies as a ´vessel´ for parasites and control over our reproduction. Because thats what she is doing right, exercising complete control over her body. I wonder how long it takes before the state takes that right away from her