I really like Aliza Shvartz’s art project. She has done some videos of herself bleeding into the bathtub and I think some paintings with her blood, described thusly:
a documentation of a nine-month process during which she artificially inseminated herself ‘as often as possible’ while periodically taking abortifacient drugs to induce miscarriages and to show what a miscarriage looks like.
Now, that description could encompass having an IUD, or possibly being on low-dose birth control pills, and having heterosexual penis-in-vagina intercourse with no condom, and doing some art with your menstrual blood.
I’m just here to tell you it is the same thing.
It is what she is calling it — “miscarriages” — and her stated intent.
An IUD does not prevent sperm from fertilizing your egg. Birth control pills don’t always stop you from ovulating — they also change your endometrial lining so that fertilized eggs can’t implant. For example, Norplant, and the mini-pill do not necessarily prevent ovulation or conception.
Morning-after pills like Plan B and others with progestin + estrogen also prevent implantation.
I am very interested in this performance piece and in the reaction of hatred and horror it is bound to provoke. I think that will be very interesting to expose people’s attitudes towards abortion and contraception.
Contraception, morning after pills, and abortion, are legal in this country. So is IVF and so are drugs like Clomid. Both IVF and “fertility drugs” have a high rate of miscarriage. But because the intent is to have a baby, and not to create art and make a statement, there is not a huge reaction of shock and horror (except from people who are against abortion in general, I think.) I will bet you that a lot of people who think IUDs, minipills, morning after pills, IVF, and fertility drugs are okay, will react in extreme ways to Shvarts’s artistic statement. So, I am pointing out that would be an inconsistent position.
I had an IUD for over a year and I had sex while it was in. How many “miscarriages” did I have? Was I an evil babykiller who deserves to die and have like 100 commenters in Jezebel wish lifelong infertility upon me? Look at the comments on the Jezebel piece, and the hatred there. Look how quickly people leap to judge. If I documented every one of my period when I had that IUD in, and called it art about miscarriage and abortion, what would you think?
You may not agree with me or how I feel about the project, but I hope I have made you think twice about your initial reactions.
I suggest that instead we direct our horror and hatred and disgust towards people like Princeton professor Peter Singer, who believes in euthanasia for elderly and disabled people and that it is ethical to kill disabled infants because their parents might be unhappy at the burden of caring for them. Though I don’t know the details of Shvarts’s piece and haven’t seen it, I am impressed already. Yes, miscarriage can be hard and terrible, and abortion can be a tough decision. But, we have abortions. We should not be ashamed of them, and we should be able to look at what we do, right in the face, or in this case, look at the blood and look at the decision making process.
Thank you Alisa for this thoughtful and intense documentation project.
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